Nearly half of the entire global workforce is in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed by the coronavirus pandemic, the International Labour Organization (ILO) warned on Wednesday.
The UN agency said the risk fell on those workers in the informal economy, and three-quarters of them, some 1.6 billion people were at risk in the second quarter of 2020.
The ILO said an expected further sharp decline in working hours, due to the Covid-19 crisis, meant that these workers were in “immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed”.
In its third report on the coronavirus crisis, the ILO warned of the impact on the most vulnerable in the labour market, who are often in the hardest-hit sectors.
The 1.6 billion people stand in line to suffer “massive damage to their ability to earn a living”, said ILO director-general Guy Ryder.
The ILO said the global workforce was 3.3 billion people, of which more than two billion worked in the informal economy – in jobs characterised by a lack of basic protections, no possibility to work from home and no income replacement during the lockdown.
“Staying home means losing their jobs, and without wages, they cannot eat,” the report said.
It said that almost 1.6 billion informal economy workers, accounting for 76% of informal employment worldwide, were significantly impacted by lockdown measures. More than 95% of them are working in units of fewer than 10 workers.