Young people and women in Southeast Asia suffered the biggest job losses during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to an Asian Development Bank (ADB) report released today ‘hui.

The report, A crisis like no other: COVID-19 and labor markets in Southeast Asia, finds that people aged 15 to 24, who make up less than 15% of the workforce in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam, accounted for up to 45% of job losses in the country. strength of the pandemic in 2020. In Thailand, women accounted for 60% of all job losses, including 90% in manufacturing, in the second quarter of 2020.

The pandemic has also exacerbated growing inequalities between skilled and unskilled workers, hurting low-skilled as well as mid-skilled workers, whose jobs are automated or moved elsewhere. Informal workers, the self-employed, temporary workers and migrant workers were among the most vulnerable groups.

“Despite unprecedented government responses, COVID-19 has revealed significant social protection gaps associated with high and persistent informality in the region,” said AfDB Managing Director for South Asia. East, Ramesh Subramaniam. “It has also provided countries with the opportunity to fill these gaps and expand coverage to new beneficiaries and excluded groups. As the recovery takes hold, the focus of fiscal policy may shift more strongly from relief to stimulus, and from stimulus to structural investments that will foster sustained and inclusive growth. “

The report examines how COVID-19 has affected labor markets in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam since the start of the pandemic. It aims to help policymakers identify priorities, constraints and opportunities to develop and implement effective labor market strategies during economic recovery and beyond.

The region was hit hard in the second quarter of 2020, when government containment measures were most severe. During this period, one in five Filipino workers either lost their job or left the labor market altogether. About 90% of Vietnamese who lost their jobs stopped looking for a new job, as did 60% of Indonesians and 40% of Malaysians.

“The pandemic and the risk of slowing economic growth and heightened inequalities have underscored the need for fiscal policy to move beyond its countercyclical role by investing more in social protection and its infrastructure,” Ayako said. Inagaki, AfDB Director of Human and Social Development for South East Asia. . “Countries should increase investments in human capital and mobilize domestic resources to establish inclusive and sustainable social protection programs and increase social insurance contributions. “

Unlike previous crises, supply chain disruptions, declining domestic and international demand, restrictions on mobility and travel, and limited opportunities for remote work have resulted in massive job cuts in agriculture. , wholesale and retail trade, sectors that would normally absorb displaced workers during a crisis period. The manufacturing sector accounted for a significant share of net job losses in many countries in Southeast Asia. Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises have been disproportionately affected by job cuts because they have less cash or have less access to government support.

Young workers were more likely to lose their jobs, mainly because they dominated hard-hit industries such as hotels and restaurants, as well as wholesale and retail trade. Women, in all countries examined by the report and in all age groups, were more likely to leave the workforce, mainly to care for their families during the pandemic. The women who re-entered the labor market in early 2021 were mostly self-employed or in the informal sector, which can hamper their long-term career development.

Informal workers, who are over-represented among the region’s working poor and near-poor, were particularly vulnerable to the crisis as they have limited job security and social protection. The 10 million migrant workers in the region have also been affected by travel and mobility restrictions, as they often lack job security or access to health and social protection systems in their countries. ‘homepage.

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