COVID-19 and labour statistics

The coronavirus pandemic has a large impact on our lives and our societies — but what is the impact and consequences for labour markets and the collection of labour statistics?

The impact on labour markets at a glance

1 %

Employed in countries with workplace closures

Among upper middle-income countries, around 70 per cent of workers continue to live in countries with strict lockdown measures in place (whether nationwide or in specific geographical areas), while in low-income countries, the earlier strict measures have been relaxed considerably, despite increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases.

1 %

Decline in working hours

 The estimated total working-hour losses in the second quarter of 2020 (relative to the fourth quarter of 2019) are now 17.3 per cent, or 495 million full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, revised upward from the estimate of 14.0 per cent (400 million FTE jobs) reported in the fifth edition of the ILO Monitor.

US$ 1 T

Global labour income losses

Estimates of labour income losses (before taking into account income support measures) suggest a global decline of 10.7 per cent during the first three quarters of 2020 (compared with the corresponding period in 2019), which amounts to US$3.5 trillion, or 5.5 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) for the first three quarters of 2019.

The impact on data collection

The restrictions necessary to combat COVID-19 pose a huge obstacle to data collection operations, precisely when there is a massive increase in demand for information. We reached out to national data producers to understand the impacts of the pandemic on their statistical operations particularly in the domain of labour statistics. 

Guidance for data producers

The most immediate impact of the pandemic on LFS data collection for most countries is the suspension of face-to-face interviewing. This note provides guidance to countries on the range of options available and challenges to deal with in order to change their data collection approach and maintain continuity in data availability.

This video briefly presents the content of this note.

International standards are still sound reference, but due to this unprecedented pandemic, this note provides guidance to data producers to maintain labour force survey (LFS) operations. It highlights the range of topics to prioritize in national LFS and suggested clarifications to support consistent treatment of special cases becoming more prevalent, such as job absences of uncertain duration, business closures, and overall reduced job search activity.

Lack of data on how households and workers are being impacted by the pandemic can severely affect the formulation of programmes and policies aimed to help those most in need. In times of crisis, rapid surveys may be an alternative source of information where official household surveys such as LFS have been halted or postponed. This note provides modules for rapid surveys to shed light on the COVID-19 impacts on paid and unpaid work.

Working from a distance and working at home are not new phenomena but the relevance of their measurement has increased, not least due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This notes provide guidance to data producers on how the four different concepts of remote work, telework, work at home and home-based work should be statistically understood, how they relate to each other, and how they can be measured through a household survey.

Lessons from the pandemic

Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic: Gender relevance of the 19th ICLS statistical standards

This brief gives a summary overview of the impact of the introduction of the 19th ICLS statistical standards on labour statistics, as compared with the previous standards from the 13th ICLS. The key gender differences between the frameworks are illustrated using data collected from pilot studies completed between 2015 and 2017.


Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic: Closing gender data gaps in the world of work – role of the 19th ICLS standards

This report provides a detailed overview of the relevance of the 19th ICLS for gender analysis of participation in work and the labour market. It uses data from the pilot studies completed between 2015 and 2017 to illustrate the wide range of analytical potential when the new standards are implemented.


How COVID-19 is changing the world: a statistical perspective

This report provides a snapshot of some of the latest information available on how COVID-19 is affecting different aspects of public and private life. It also provides a glimpse into the challenges facing national statistical offices. At a time when statistics are most needed, many statistical systems are struggling to compile basic statistics, highlighting once again the need to invest in data and statistics, and the importance of having modern national statistical systems and data infrastructure.

Volume II of this report updates some of the global and regional trends presented in the first volume and offers a snapshot of how COVID-19 continues to affect the world today across multiple domains. The report also highlights the impact of the pandemic on specific regions and population groups.