The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the euro area labour market

Author

Listed:

  • Anderton, Robert
  • Botelho, Vasco
  • Consolo, Agostino
  • Da Silva, António Dias
  • Foroni, Claudia
  • Mohr, Matthias
  • Vivian, Lara

Abstract

This article analyses labour market developments in the euro area since the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Total hours worked declined sharply in the first half of 2020. However, employment and unemployment reacted only weakly to the marked fall in GDP, as many workers remained employed under job retention schemes. These contributed to a fall in compensation per employee and an increase in compensation per hour worked. Participation in the labour force also dropped substantially, more than offsetting the increase observed since mid-2013. An analysis of the decomposition of labour market shocks via a sign-restricted structural vector-autoregressive model shows that both supply and demand shocks contributed to the decline in total hours worked. High-frequency indicators on hiring rates and job postings have declined sharply since April and continue to indicate a depressed level of labour demand. However, employment and hours worked recovered somewhat in the third quarter. Nonetheless, the COVID-19 pandemic is having a heterogeneous impact on employment across euro area countries and there is the risk of a further increase in geographic divergence in euro area labour markets. Temporary employees, the young and workers with low levels of education were the most affected, while teleworking may have played a role in supporting employment and hours worked for some workers in certain sectors. Activity sectors such as trade and transport and recreation activities have been disproportionately affected, with the largest decreases in hours worked. However, it is too early to assess the extent to which the pandemic will affect the need for labour reallocation across sectors, tasks and occupations. JEL Classification: E24, E65

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