* 2022 job disruptions double versus last forecast
* More than 200 mln set to be unemployed this year
* ILO chief calls for investment in health sector
* Raises concerns about COVID's impact on women's work
GENEVA, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The global job market will take
longer to recover than previously thought, with unemployment set
to remain above pre-COVID-19 levels until at least 2023 due to
uncertainty about the pandemic's course and duration, the
International Labour Organization said in a report on Monday.
The U.N. agency estimates the equivalent of around 52
million fewer jobs in 2022 versus pre-COVID levels, which
amounts to about double its previous estimate from June 2021.
Disruptions are set to continue into 2023 when there will
still be around 27 million fewer jobs, it said, warning of a
"slow and uncertain" recovery in its World Employment and Social
Outlook report for 2022.
"The global labor market outlook has deteriorated since the
ILO's last projections; a return to pre-pandemic performance is
likely to remain elusive for much of the world over the coming
years," the report said.
Director-General Guy Ryder told journalists that there were
numerous factors behind its revision, saying the "primary one is
the continuing pandemic and its variants, notably Omicron."
The speed of recovery varies across regions, with the
European and North American regions showing the most encouraging
signs and Southeast Asia and South America lagging behind,
according to the report.
Still, the projected deficit in working hours this year
represents an improvement over the past two years. In 2021, the
ILO estimates there were some 125 million fewer jobs than
pre-pandemic levels and in 2020, 258 million fewer.
Overall, around 207 million people are estimated to be
unemployed in 2022. However, the report said that the impact
would be significantly greater since many people have left the
labor force and have yet to return.
Among those are a high number of women https://www.reuters.com/markets/funds/gender-equality-takes-one-step-forward-three-back-during-covid-2021-12-02,
often because they have been drawn into unpaid work at home
such as teaching children during school closures or caring for
sick family members.
The report predicted that the disproportionate impact of the
pandemic on women's employment would narrow in the coming years
but that a "sizeable gap" would remain.
"There are some anecdotal indications that they are not
coming back in the same numbers and in the same portions as men
are doing which would lead to concerns that a 'Long COVID'
effect on gender at work would be a negative one," said Ryder.
Others who have left the workforce have done so voluntarily
as part of a phenomenon some economists call "the great
resignation." Ryder said this appeared to be more prominent in
areas of the economy such as health and care giving.
"We do need to look again and to invest further in those
areas of economic activity," he said.
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and