Nearly half of the global workforce is at risk of losing their livelihoods as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps businesses shuttered and subsequently reduces incomes.
According to a report from the International Labour Organization, almost 1.6 billion workers stand in “immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed” should the sharp decline in working hours continue as a result of coronavirus-induced lockdown measures.
The United Nations agency found that the first month of the health crisis led to a 60% decline in the income of informal workers, which it defined as the “most vulnerable in the labor market.” Broken down among regions, that represented a plunge of 71% in Africa and the Americas, 70% in Europe and Central Asia, and 21.6% in Asia and the Pacific.
What’s more, it anticipated that the dip in working hours during the second quarter of the year would be “significantly worse than previously estimated.” Compared to pre-outbreak estimates of a 6.7% dip, it now forecasts a 10.5% deterioration.
“For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future,” said ILO director-general Guy Ryder. “As the pandemic and the jobs crisis evolve, the need to protect the most vulnerable becomes even more urgent.”
Around the world, more than 436 million businesses that operate in hard-hit economic sectors face “high risks of serious disruption,” the agency added. That includes 232 million companies in the wholesale and retail industries, 111 million in manufacturing, 51 million in accommodation and food services, as well as 42 million in real estate and other enterprises.
“Millions of businesses around the world are barely breathing,” Ryder added. “They have no savings or access to credit… If we don’t help them now, these enterprises will simply perish.”