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Journal number 3 ∘ Mariam Matsaberidze
Peculiarities of the labor market functioning in the conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic (Imereti region case)

Expanded Summary

The year 2020 was difficult not only for Georgia, but also for the whole world, because the the earth population faced new challenges so called "black plague" of the 21st century or the pandemic known to everyone as Covid-19.

The new disease changed the agenda and led to the adoption of new regulations that brought changes in almost all areas of human activity, including the labor market. The formation of incomes of the largest part of the population largely depends on the proper functioning of the labor market, which is directly related to the creation of the country's GDP.

The impact of Covid-19 on the labor market of Georgia was one of the most pressing problems, as various institutions were closed or disrupted, many people were left without jobs or working part-time, which negatively affected their incomes and, therefore, the well-being of their families.

The paper has two aims: First aim is to study the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the labor markets of the Georgia and, the Second aim is to  study the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the labor market in the Imereti region.

To achieve the first aim, the particularities of the Georgian labor market before and after of the appearance of Covid-19 was considered.

Due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the absolute number of employees decreases not only year-on-year, but every quarter. For example, in the first quarter of 2020, the number of employed population decreased by 10.6%, in the second quarter, compared to the first quarter, the number of employed population decreased by additional 8.3%. There was a slight positive change in employment in the third quarter, which reversed again in the fourth quarter, when the number of people in employment fell by another 3%.

In 2020, the policy of the Georgian government was directed on the fighting the pandemic, and included 4 main stages.

The first stage was to "contain" the spread of the virus. This stage started 1 month before the confirmation of the first case of the virus in Georgia and identified 4 priority areas. Among other areas there was economic one, which provided for the management and recovery of the Georgian economy against the background of the global economic crisis.

The second stage aimed to "slow down" the spread of the virus. On March 2-4, 2020, the learning process in the educational institutions as well as creative activities in cultural institutions were suspended, all planned events related to crowds were prohibited were canceled, air traffic was suspended from March 6, and various services switched to remote work mode.

The third stage included the "management" of the spread of the virus - on March 21, air traffic was completely stopped, movement restrictions were imposed, and various economic activities were gradually stopped.

The fourth stage took into account the gradual easing and adaptation of the imposed restrictions. During this period, restrictions related to movement were removed, all economic activities were allowed, except for customer service in food establishments, sports, entertainment and cultural events, operation of shopping centers and markets, etc.

In the I and II quarters of 2021 the gradual lifting of restrictions continues. But in the III quarter of 2021, depending on the epidemiological situation, regulations and restrictions werer established again. Since October 2021, schools and higher education institutions have opened, catering establishments are extended their work until 23:00. And from the first of December started operation the so-called Green passport, for those who are fully vaccinated.

The impact of the anti-pandemic institutional restrictions adopted by the Georgian government was studied. The study showed that the COVID-19 pandemic and the regulations imposed by the Government of Georgia significantly hampered or completely stopped the activities of various sectors of the economy, which had a negative impact on the Georgian labor market, reduced the employment level and increased unemployment.

To achieve the second aim of this study the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the labor market in the Imereti region was investigated.

The study of the labor market of the Imereti region was carried out within the framework of the grant project " COVID-19 and the Modern Challenges of the Labour Market". The investigation of the Imereti region’s labor market was carried out by the questionnaire survey method. The survey took place in August-October 2021 and 252 respondents took part in it.

The study has shown that the main source of income for 73.4% of the families of the interviewed persons is the salary, and for 13.5% the main source of income is remittances received from abroad. According to the obtained data, 13.5% of the respondents lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Among persons who lost their jobs due to the virus, 28.3% received government assistance, while 71.7% did not, and in the case of 42.6% of them, the dismissal occurred in violation of the Georgian legislation. Regarding the period of infection and isolation, more than 1/5 of the study participants were compensated for missed work hours, but almost the same number remained unpaid during this period. Of the respondents who had to work online, 15% found this mode less convenient, however, for the same number of respondents, online work was very convenient, and for a large part of them, online work became a way to combine work and get additional income. Thus, the changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have had a different impact on labor market participants. The end of the pandemic should have a positive impact on the labor market of Georgia, however, the experience it has acquired should give us a solid basis for receiving minimal losses in the conditions of future unexpected cataclysms.

KEYWORDS: Covid-19 pandemic, labor market, labor market institutions