Some 1.6 billion people employed in the informal economy – or nearly half the global workforce – could see their livelihoods destroyed due to the continued decline in working hours brought on by lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, more than 430 million enterprises in hard-hit sectors such as retail and manufacturing risk “serious disruption”, the UN agency added.
ILO Director General Guy Ryder said as the pandemic and the jobs crisis evolve, the need to protect the world’s most vulnerable workers becomes even more urgent.
“For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future. Millions of businesses around the world are barely breathing. They have no savings or access to credit”, he said.
“These are the real faces of the world of work. If we don’t help them now, they will simply perish.”
Drop in income
The findings appear in the ILO Monitor third edition: COVID-19 and the world of work, released on Wednesday. Globally, there are some 3.3 billion workers. Two billion have jobs in the informal economy, representing the most vulnerable workers in the labour market.
The agency 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 created by the COVID-19 pandemic.