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

2020 at a glance

1 %

Decline in working hours

These working-hour losses (relative to the fourth quarter of 2019) are equivalent to 255 million full-time jobs and approximately four times greater than during the global financial crisis in 2009.

1 %

decline in labour income

The decline in global labour income (before taking into account income support measures) amounts to US$3.7 trillion, or 4.4 per cent of global gross domestic product.

1  million

increase in persons outside the labour force

Employment losses in 2020 translated mainly into rising inactivity rather than unemployment. Accounting for 71 per cent of global employment losses, inactivity increased by 81 million, which resulted in a reduction of the global labour force participation rate by 2.2 percentage points in 2020 to 58.4 per cent. 

Table of Contents

Data

For more indicators, see our short-term labour force statistics (STLFS) on the data page.

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

Defining and measuring remote work, telework, work at home and home-based work

Defining and measuring remote work, telework, work at home and home-based 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.


Capturing impacts on employment and unpaid work using Rapid Surveys

Capturing impacts on employment and unpaid work using Rapid Surveys

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.


Guidance to data producers to maintain labour force survey data collection

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.


Essential labour force survey content and treatment of special groups

Essential labour force survey content and treatment of special groups

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.


COVID-19 Guidance for labour statistics data collection: Consumer Price Indexes

COVID-19 Guidance for labour statistics data collection: Consumer Price Indexes

The COVID-19 crisis is affecting data collection activities of national statistical offices (NSOs) around the world, including for consumer price indexes (CPI).


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.

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

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.


Need Help?

Here are the basics to use the data catalogue

Something Still Not Clear?

Feel free to contact us, and we will be more than happy to answer all of your questions.

Use filters above the table

Use the search feature to enter key words. On the data page, you can also filter the database and select a frequency to find monthly, quarterly, or annual indicators. While all indicators are available for annual periods, only a subset are available as monthly or quarterly. 

Options to access data

Data available in the Excel summary files are for indicators only (not available for countries or regions) for selected classification items for 2010 onward for annual data and 2018 onward for short-term indicators. For historical data or additional classifications, either use the Data Explorer or download the CSV file. 

Download a zipped CSV file (gzip) to get data in bulk. These files contain only codes. Download the dictionary with labels here

There are other options to access data in the data tools section

The option provides an intuitive interface to filter the selection, including for all available breakdowns (e.g., sex and age), and export the data into various formats.