Workers lost $3.7 trillion in earnings during the pandemic. Women and Gen Z saw the biggest losses.

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Carlos Ponce joins a protest in in Miami Springs, Florida, asking senators to continue unemployment benefits past July 31, 2020. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • A new ILO report finds workers lost $US3.7 trillion in earnings throughout the pandemic, with Americans losing the most.
  • Women and younger workers were the hardest hit by employment losses.
  • America will also have a harder recovery as the pandemic continues its spread.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Workers around the world cumulatively lost $US3.7 trillion in earnings during the coronavirus pandemic — an 8.3% decline — according to a new report from the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

American workers saw the largest losses in earnings, a 10.3% decline.

Globally, 8.8% of working hours were lost, and 114 million people experienced employment loss — what the report called an “unprecedented” level.

An uneven loss

Women have been harder hit by the pandemic’s effect on employment. In December, the US lost 140,000 jobs — all of which were held by women.

Now, the ILO finds that women experienced unemployment losses of 5%, while losses were at 3.9% for men. As the ILO notes, women were more likely to become “inactive,” meaning that they dropped out of the labour market.

That would track with prior trends for women’s unemployment:As Insider’s Taylor Borden reported, one million married women lost their jobs in September 2020. Those losses came during back to school season, when many working American mothers may have exited the labour force to care for children who are attending school virtually or are without childcare.

Younger workers — those who are ages 15-24 — were also disproportionately impacted by employment losses. They saw losses of 8.7%, while adults on the whole saw a 3.7% loss.

That trend has been consistent throughout the pandemic. Gen Z, the oldest of whom is 23, saw college experiences, a bustling labour market, and markers of adulthood all yanked away as the pandemic set in. As Insider’s Hillary Hoffower reported, Gen Z has become the most unemployed generation — and is on track to repeat the same money problems as millennials.

The ILO report said the group is at risk of becoming a “lost generation.”

There’s hope for recovery, but it will likely be uneven

The most vulnerable workers have faced some of the biggest job losses throughout the pandemic’s recovery, and that K-shaped trajectory may continue.

The ILO’s baseline recovery scenario still projects a 3% loss in working hours for 2021; its most pessimistic forecast sees a 4.6% decrease, while the most optimistic scenario sees a 1.3% drop.

The report calls for a targeted recovery that would provide support for hard-hit workers and sectors.

As Bloomberg reports, a slow vaccine rollout — and uneven distribution — could also impact the global recovery, as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are adjusting their respective outlooks downward.

America’s ever-continuing pandemic will also impact its recovery during 2021.

“The Americas and Europe and Central Asia are expected to suffer working-hour losses more than twice as large as those in other regions, owing to the stringent health measures that were in place at the start of the year,” the ILO report says. “The Americas suffered by far the largest losses in 2020, and accordingly have the most ground to make up, while at the same time still experiencing serious restrictions because of the ongoing pandemic.”