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?

Table of contents

Labour market impacts

At a glance

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. 


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

Featured publication

Social Dialogue Report 2022

Social Dialogue Report 2022: Collective bargaining for an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery

The report examines the role of collective bargaining in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on employment and earnings, helping to cushion inequality while reinforcing the resilience of enterprises and labour markets. The tailoring of public health measures and strengthening of occupational safety and health at the workplace, together with the paid sick leave and healthcare benefits provided for in many collective agreements, protected workers and supported the continuity of economic activity.

Data collection

The COVID-19 pandemic created many of practical and conceptual challenges, as well as a major demand for enhanced data to describe the impact on labour markets and the world of work. The ILO has produced a range of information and guides to describe the impacts COVID-19 has had on data collection, and support countries to continue to produce relevant data.

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


For data producers

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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. 

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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. 

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