Published on 16th September 2020
Statistics gathered by the World Employment Confederation on the developments of the agency work sector in different countries around the world indicate towards a more rapid recovery of the sector compared to the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. At the same time, and in line with GDP growth, the contraction during the second quarter of 2020, characterised by lockdown measures in most countries, is deeper and sharper than at the peak of the previous global economic crisis.
In Europe and the US, agency work activity dropped by 31% and 33% on an annual basis respectively in the second quarter of 2020. In comparison, during the second quarter of 2009, European and US agency work activity was down by 29% and 28% on an annual basis. The most recent monthly figures for 2020 showcase a promising trend, as markets are recovering since May. While activity remains around 20% below its level of the same period in 2019, activity has picked up significantly compared to the April 2020, the first full month of implemented lockdown measures in most markets.
As economies began reopening gradually during the second quarter of 2020, the agency work sector is providing a much needed source of labour for companies amid heightened levels of insecurity during the pandemic. In this way, the sector contributes to a quicker economic recovery.
France (-36%), Belgium (-33%), Spain (-33%) and Poland (-40%) were the most heavily impacted markets in Europe during the second quarter when looking at the numbers of hours worked by agency workers when compared to the same period of the previous year.
The Canadian agency work sector saw a drop in activity of 29% on an annual basis in Q2 2020.
In Japan, the number of agency workers dropped by 11% in July compared to the same month in 2019, the biggest decline on record.
For a more exhaustive overview, consult the document developed and regularly updated by the WEC Head Office.