Youth and women most affected in SEA labour market


YOUTH and women are most affected in the labour market due to the pandemic, according to a report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The report, A Crisis Like No Other — Covid-19 and Labour Markets in South-East Asia (SEA), also stated that apart from the aforementioned group, informal workers, self-employed workers, temporary workers and migrant workers were affected the most during the pandemic.

The report stated that in the pandemic era, young workers are more likely to lose jobs due to their engagement in the directly affected sectors like hospitality tourism and wholesale retail trade while women are more likely to leave the working sector to take care of their family.

The report also highlights the importance of job security and social protection to informal workers who on average consist of poor and almost poor workers in the region, as well as the 10 million migrant workers in this region who are stranded due to lack of social protection from their country of origin.

The report stated that in the second quarter of 2020 (2Q20), youth aged between 15 and 24 represent less than 15% of workers in Indonesia, while 45% lose jobs in the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

In Thailand, 60% of women lose their jobs with 90% involved in the manufacturing sector. Furthermore, it also affects the growing inequality between skilled and unskilled workers.

“Covid-19 has exposed significant social protection gaps associated with high and persistent informality across the region, hence providing an opportunity for countries to address these gaps and expand coverage to new beneficiaries and excluded groups,” ADB DG for SEA Ramesh Subramaniam said.

“As recovery takes hold, the focus of fiscal policy can shift more strongly from relief to stimulus, and from stimulus to structural investments that will promote sustained and inclusive growth.”

The report also examines how Covid-19 affected the labour market in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam to help policymakers identify priorities, constraints and opportunities to develop and implement more effective labour market strategies for the purpose of economic recovery.

During 2Q20, one out of five workers lost their jobs or left the workforce in the Philippines, while 90% of workers who lost their jobs stopped searching for a new one in Vietnam, 60% in Indonesia and 40% in Malaysia.

Manufacturing accounted for a large share of net job losses in many countries in SEA.

Unlike the previous crisis, sectors like agriculture, wholesale and retail were still able to absorb displaced workers because the main cause was a decline in domestic and international demand, mobility and travel restrictions, and limited possibilities of working remotely.