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    ILO estimates reveal 1.6 million jobs lost in Myanmar in 2021

    HealthCOVID-19ILO estimates reveal 1.6 million jobs lost in Myanmar...
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    ILO estimates reveal 1.6 million jobs lost in Myanmar in 2021

    Military takeover has hammered labour market already weakened by impact of COVID-19, women workers hit hardest, says the UN organisation.

    Some 1.6 million jobs were lost in Myanmar in 2021, according to new estimates released by the International Labour Organization (ILO), with the military takeover compounding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    One year on from the military takeover in Myanmar on 1 February 2021, the labour market remains fragile, the ILO says.

    Working hours are estimated to have decreased 18 per cent in 2021 relative to 2020, equivalent to the working time of at least 3.1 million full-time workers. “These working-hour losses were driven by employment losses as well as increased underemployment” says ILO .

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    The ILO said this based on its study titled Employment in Myanmar in 2021: A rapid assessment. The assessment report highlights the fragile state of the Myanmar labour market and how the February 2021 military takeover has compounded the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Key sectors have suffered considerable impacts. Rural farmers were hard hit by armed conflict, violence and insecurity. Construction, garments, and tourism and hospitality were also among the hardest hit industries in 2021, with year-on-year employment losses reaching an estimated 31 per cent, 27 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively.

    The losses in both working hours and employment were disproportionately greater for women than men overall. Women also accounted for an overwhelming majority of job losses in garments as well as tourism and hospitality.

    Social and economic crisis

    “The military takeover and COVID-19 pandemic have put millions of workers in Myanmar in a grim situation. We are witnessing a reversal of years of progress in the labour market. Should this continue, it can only lead to increased poverty and insecurity across the country,” said Donglin Li, ILO Myanmar liaison representative.

    Political turmoil, armed conflict, violence, insecurity and displacement in the country have compounded the immense socio-economic and public health challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 25 million people (almost half the population) were living in poverty by the end of 2021 and 14.4 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UNDP office in Myanmar.

    The International Monetary Fund estimates that gross domestic product (GDP) decreased by 17.9 per cent in 2021, after recording growth of 3.2 per cent in 2020.2 Similarly, the World Bank estimates a contraction in GDP of 18 per cent in fiscal year 2021 driven by a myriad of factors.

    These factors include reduced mobility and incomes, a spike in energy prices, and disruptions in logistics, telecommunications, and essential public services. Also, liquidity shortages and disruption of the banking sector have limited the ability of businesses to pay workers and suppliers.

     

    Image: ILO / M Crozet

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