When COVID-19 led to a global lockdown in March 2020, many people did not know what to expect. However, since then, nearly half of the world’s workforce have lost their jobs. The global economy has also been significantly affected by the pandemic, causing general concern for the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals, one of them being SDG 8: Decent Growth and Economic Wealth.
SDG 8 seeks to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. While progress has been made, SDG 8 was already not on track to meeting its targets. Therefore, considering the effects of COVID is crucial for understanding what needs to be to get this SDG back on the path to achieving its targets and indicators.
While the unemployment rate has stayed steady since 2005, the rate has now increased significantly from the pandemic onwards. COVID has also slowed economic growth, affecting individuals' livelihoods in unprecedented ways due to necessary lockdowns to contain the virus. Not to mention, according to the U.N., ending the use of child labor as per one of the targets, has been pushed back by 10% due to COVID. Furthermore, the overall success of SDG 8 being on track depends on the overall success of COVID management.
Therefore, COVID illustrates a need for more social safety nets, such as basic income, universal healthcare and strengthening social programs, that can prevent such a sharp economic downturn during times of crisis. At the very least, such nets will help mitigate any negative impacts these crises may have on achieving the SDGs, especially when considering not only economic growth, but poverty and income inequality as well.