COVID-19 has hit our economies and societies like a tsunami. The effects on jobs and workers dwarf those of the 2008 global financial crisis. During the strictest lockdown periods, almost all communities were dealing with large parts of the economy being virtually frozen. Since this first phase, the challenges have become more differentiated across places. Large cities host both substantial shares of high-skilled workers with relatively secure jobs and teleworking options, but also many low-skilled workers in face-to-face service positions that remain at risk. Tourism-intensive local communities are facing unprecedented drops in visitors. Many manufacturing regions continue to struggle with drops in global trade, disruptions to supply chains, and accelerated automation.

This 2020 edition of Job Creation and Local Economic Development considers the short-term impacts of COVID-19 on local labour markets as well as the longer-term implications for local development. It explores emerging evidence on the immediate local employment impacts of the crisis, the divides within and across local labour markets even prior to the pandemic, and the likely diverging recovery patterns. It also considers the underlying trends that COVID-19 may accelerate including digitalisation, the automation of jobs and polarisation of skill profiles, and the transition to greener jobs; as well as the trends which could be slowed down including reconfigured global supply chains, as well as the concentration of the high skilled in large cities.

This edition offers guidance on local action in the recovery. It considers strategies to strengthen local employment services and training providers to meet the increased demand for job placement and skills upgrading in different types of local labour markets, particularly for the most disadvantaged workers. It also considers business development for the hardest hit firms (SMEs and the self-employed) and sectors (tourism, culture, hospitality). Looking to the future, it considers strategies and tools to “rebuild better” in local communities by rethinking local development strategies, taking advantage of the changing geography of jobs due to remote working, and other opportunities such as the social economy. Accompanying individual country profiles are available online.

This publication contributes to the work of the Co-operative Action Programme on Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED), created in 1982 to provide practical solutions for how to build vibrant communities with more and better jobs for all. It was approved by the Local Economic and Employment Development Directing Committee via written procedure on 12 October 2020 [CFE/LEED/(2020)8], [CFE/LEED/(2020)9], and [CFE/LEED/(2020)10].

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