Asia-Pacific Labour Market Insights

How did COVID -19 impact working hours in Asia-Pacific economies in 2020?

Working hours declined in all Asia-Pacific economies in 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdowns and containment measures, but losses were especially strong in the South Asia subregion.

In 2020, working-hour losses were the most widespread effect of COVID-19 on labour markets, affecting millions of workers in the Asia-Pacific region. While the share of working hours lost was below the global average of 8.8 per cent in most economies in the region, losses were more extreme in ten countries – seven of which located in South Asia.

As activities rebound in stops and starts in 2021, the ILO Monitor: Covid-19 and the world of work, 7th edition, estimates a tentative recovery but with working hours in regions still falling below their 2019 levels. In 2021, working hours in Asia-Pacific subregions are expected to remain below the quarter four 2019 figure by: 1.2 per cent in East Asia, 0.4 per cent in the Pacific, 3.5 per cent in South-East Asia and 2.5 per cent in South Asia.