Covid-19 Is Driving Down Wages and Women Are Worst Hit, ILO Says

(Bloomberg) — The pandemic is depressing wages, with International Labour Organization data showing the brunt is being borne by women and the lowest paid.

Average pay in Japan, South Korea and the U.K. came under pressure in the first half of the year. Wages in Brazil, Canada, France, Italy and the U.S. rose on balance, but chiefly because job losses were concentrated among the least well-paid, according to the ILO’s Global Wage Report 2020-21.

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“In countries where strong measures were taken to preserve employment, the effects of the crisis were felt primarily as falls in wages rather than massive job losses,” it said. “Those in lower-skilled occupations lost more working hours than higher-paying managerial and professional jobs.”


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The findings are the latest reminder that the global crisis is exacerbating inequality, with potentially long-lasting economic, social and political ramifications.

Sectors like leisure, tourism and hospitality that have been among the worst hit typically employ more women.

The ILO report found that without subsidies, workers on the lower half of the income scale would have lost 17.3% of their wages. Women would have also taken a bigger hit in percentage terms than men in the second quarter, due to a reduction of working hours.

The crisis “threatens a legacy of poverty and social and economic instability that would be devastating,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said.

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