Europe’s Workers Seen Losing in Post-Pandemic World, Study Finds

Europe’s workers will still be suffering from the pandemic long after companies have benefited from efficiencies gained during coronavirus lockdowns, according to a European Central Bank survey.

Leading companies in the region say an accelerated take-up of digital technologies and better processes will bolster productivity. At the same time, 55% say they expect to employ fewer workers over the long term.

That’s after the region’s worst crisis in post-war history led to a spike in lay-offs and furloughs as millions of businesses were forced to limit activity amid restrictions to contain the virus.

Europe’s Workers Seen Losing in Post-Pandemic World, Study Finds

The findings -- reported in an ECB survey of 72 top non-financial companies -- suggest that firms may bounce back from the shock faster than households, making for a potentially lopsided recovery in the coming years.

The results “seem to reflect how businesses have learned to maintain production in spite of restrictions on labor inputs due to social distancing and the identification of related efficiency gains,” ECB researchers Eduardo Maqui and Richard Morris wrote.

Even though nearly 30% of respondents identified reduced demand for their products or services as one of the main long-term consequences of the pandemic, more than three quarters expect their business to be more efficient and resilient.

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