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Asia-Pacific’s labour markets have recorded a partial rebound from the impact of Covid-19 yet full recovery in the region remains elusive with conditions expected to remain difficult into 2023, according to a report from the International Labour Organisation.

The report found that employment numbers in the Asia-Pacific region in 2022 were 2.0% above the pre-crisis level of 2019, recovering from the loss of over 57 million jobs in 2020. However, the recovery is not complete.

The region still lacks 22 million jobs in 2022, a jobs gap of 1.1% compared to if the pandemic had not occurred. This number is projected to increase to 26 million (1.4%) in 2023 given the headwinds to growth in the current geopolitical global and regional context.

At the same time, total working hours in the region remained below those of 2019 while the regional unemployment rate in 2022 was 5.2%, an increase of 0.5% from 2019.

By 2022, all subregions had regained the employment losses of 2020 and were showing positive employment growth over 2019. However, employment growth did not keep pace with population growth. Only in the Pacific was the employment-to-population ratio in 2022 above that of 2019.

Chihoko Asada Miyakawa, ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, said, “Although Asia-Pacific employment trends look positive, the region’s labour market is not yet back on its pre-crisis track with numerous additional challenges casting shadows on future growth prospects. It is vital that we bring inclusive and human-centred growth back to the region and not settle for a ‘quasi’ recovery based on informal and poor-quality jobs.”
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