1.6 billion informal economy workers significantly impacted by lockdown measures: ILO

UN labour agency calls Covid-19 pandemic worst global crisis since the Second World War

informal workers

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has released the third edition of the COVID-19 and the world of work report and it paints a bleak picture for informal sector workers. The report says, “Among the most vulnerable in the labour market, almost 1.6 billion informal economy workers are significantly impacted by lockdown measures and/or working in the hardest-hit sectors.”

It adds, “The first month of crisis is estimated to result in a decline in earnings of informal workers of 60 per cent globally.” The ILO calls for urgent and significant policy responses to protect both enterprises, particularly smaller businesses, and workers, especially those operating in the informal economy.

The report also highlights the concept of relative poverty saying, “In addition, the rate of relative poverty, which is defined as the proportion of workers with monthly earnings that fall below 50 per cent of the median earnings in the population, is expected to increase by almost 34 percentage points globally for informal workers, ranging from 21 percentage points in upper-middle-income countries to 56 percentage points in lower-middle-income economies.”

The ILO also showcases how women workers will bear a disproportionately high brunt of the economic collapse. It says, “Among informal economy workers significantly impacted by the crisis, women are overrepresented in high-risk sectors: 42 per cent of women workers are working in those sectors, compared to 32 per cent of men.”

The second edition of the report was released on April 7 and since then the ILO notes, “… global COVID-19 infections have more than doubled to reach nearly 2.6 million on 22 April 2020, while the number of deaths has more than tripled, approaching 180,000 worldwide.”

The report also looks at the plight of small entrepreneurs and independent professionals saying, “Taking together employers and own-account workers, around 436 million enterprises in the hardest-hit sectors worldwide are currently facing high risks of serious disruption. More than half of these – some 232 million – are in wholesale and retail trade, currently one of the most impacted sectors globally. Own-account workers represent 45 per cent of employment in this segment. Own-account workers and small enterprises together account for more than 70 per cent of global employment in retail trade and nearly 60 per cent in the accommodation and food services sector, a reflection of the severe vulnerability of these sectors in the present economic crisis.”

The ILO offers a four-pronged solution, that entails:

·Stimulating the economy and employment

·Supporting enterprises, jobs and incomes

·Protecting workers in the workplace

·Relying on social dialogue for solutions

The entire report may be read here: 



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