Coronavirus spurred changes to global workforce to be permanent

Jane Wardell –

Sweeping changes to the global labour market caused by the coronavirus pandemic will likely be permanent, policy makers said on Tuesday, as some industries collapse, others flourish and workers stay home.
“I think it would be a fallacy to think we will go back to where we were before,” Philippines central bank Governor Benjamin Diokno said. “I think we have to have a vision of what the new normal will be.”
The pandemic, which has so far infected at least 90.5 million people and killed around 1.9 worldwide, has up-ended industries and workers in almost every country in the world as tough lockdowns were imposed.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) has estimated that the impact of huge job losses worldwide is creating a fiscal gap that threatens to increase inequality between richer and poorer countries.
The ILO estimated that global labour income declined by 10.7 per cent, or $3.5 trillion, in the first three quarters of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019, excluding government income support.
India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said the pandemic had created an “accidental challenge” under which the government delivered food on a regular basis to 800 million people and provided sustained business funds.
“We’ve created the beginnings in a sense of a social welfare system,” Jaishankar told Reuters Next.
Diokno said it was clear some industries will not survive, others will not be as dynamic as before, and yet others will be boosted by the massive changes. “We were already geared towards the digital, contactless, industries,” Diokno said.
“That will define the new normal,” he added, saying he expects 70 per cent of all adult Filipinos to have access to a transactional bank account by 2023.
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman (ACCC) Rod Sims was pessimistic about the outlook for the aviation industry, seeing no return to usual international travel to and from Australia throughout 2021.
“I think free international travel between Australia and overseas will be a long time away, unfortunately,” Sims told Reuters Next.
The ACCC had produced an optimistic report on the aviation industry in early December when Australia appeared to have largely stamped out local transmission of COVID-19.
That situation changed almost overnight in late December when a worker at a quarantine hotel in Sydney for international arrivals tested positive, after moving freely among the public. Many state borders were quickly slammed down and lockdowns reimposed over Christmas and New Year, while further curbs were placed on the few international arrivals allowed into the country. — Reuters