Coronavirus outbreak: Nearly half of global workforce faces threat of losing livelihoods

Published: May 01, 2020, 13:35 IST | Agencies | United Nations

Globally, there are some 3.3 billion workers. Two billion have jobs in the informal economy, the most vulnerable workers in the labour market

People in need queue up at a food distribution centre in New York. Pic/ AFP
People in need queue up at a food distribution centre in New York. Pic/ AFP

Almost 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy, nearly half of the global workforce, face an immediate danger of losing their livelihoods due to the continued sharp decline in working hours because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said. Over 430 million enterprises in hard-hit sectors such as retail and manufacturing risk "serious disruption", the UN agency added. The findings appear in the ILO Monitor third edition released on Wednesday.

Globally, there are some 3.3 billion workers. Two billion have jobs in the informal economy, the most vulnerable workers in the labour market. ILO said 1.6 billion in the informal economy "have suffered massive damage to their capacity to earn a living" as a result of the economic meltdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to lockdowns or because they work in hard-hit sectors, these workers globally have seen a 60 per cent drop in income during the first month of the crisis. This translates into a over 80 per cent decline in Africa and the Americas, 70 per cent in Europe and Central Asia, and 21.6 per cent in Asia and the Pacific, the ILO said.

The ILO called for "urgent, targeted and flexible measures" to support both workers and business, particularly smaller enterprises and those in the informal economy.

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