The latest data of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on the Covid-19 impact on the global labour market reveal that 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy have stood in immediate danger of losing their livelihoods.
According to the "ILO Monitor third edition: COVID-19 and the world of work", the drop in working hours in the current (second) quarter of 2020 has been expected to be significantly worse than it was previously estimated.
Compared to the pre-crisis period's, a 10.5-percent deterioration in working hours has now been anticipated, equivalent to 305 million full-time jobs (assuming a 48-hour working week).
The previous estimate was a 6.7-percent drop, equivalent to 195 million full-time workers. This is due to the prolongation and extension of lockdown measures.
Regionally, the situation has worsened for all major groups. Estimates suggest a 12.4-percent loss of working hours in Q2 for the Americas and 11.8 percent for Europe and Central Asia.
The estimates for the rest of the regional groups followed closely and were all above 9.5 percent.
Informal economy impact
The first month of the crisis has been estimated to have resulted in a drop of 60 percent in the income of informal workers globally.
This translated into a drop of 81 percent in Africa and the Americas, 21.6 percent in Asia and the Pacific and 70 percent in Europe and Central Asia.
"Some sectors of the population such as women, youth, older workers, migrants and self-employed persons are disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic," said ILO Country Director in Bangladesh Tuomo Poutiainen.
"Young persons, already facing higher rates of unemployment and underemployment, are more vulnerable to falling labour demand and losing their livelihoods, and older workers are also at risk from unemployment, underemployment and decreased working hours," He added.
"Women are more likely to lack social protection and have more care responsibilities. Self-employed, casual and gig workers are also vulnerable as they do not have access to paid or sick leave mechanisms, and are less or not protected by conventional social protection mechanisms," said Poutiainen.
Without alternative income sources, these workers and their families will have no means to survive.
Enterprises at risk
The proportion of workers living in countries under recommended or required workplace closures has decreased from 81 percent to 68 percent over the last two weeks.
The decline from the previous estimate of 81 percent in the second edition of the monitor is primarily a result of changes in China; elsewhere workplace closure measures have increased.
Worldwide, more than 436 million enterprises face high risks of serious disruption.
These enterprises are operating in the hardest-hit economic sectors, including some 232 million in wholesale and retail, 111 million in manufacturing, 51 million in accommodation and food services, and 42 million in real estate and other business activities.
Urgent policy measures needed
The ILO called for urgent, targeted and flexible measures to support workers and businesses, particularly smaller enterprises, those in the informal economy and others who are vulnerable.
Measures for economic reactivation should follow a job-rich approach, backed by stronger employment policies and institutions, better-resourced and comprehensive social protection systems.
International coordination on stimulus packages and debt relief measures will also be critical to making recovery effective and sustainable.
"With the correct measures in place to protect workers, enterprises and employment, our economies and societies would recover better," said Poutiainen.
He added that this is an opportunity to learn lessons and adjust our priorities.
"As the pandemic and the jobs crisis evolve, the need to protect the most vulnerable becomes even more urgent," said ILO-Director General Guy Ryder.
"For millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future. Millions of businesses around the world are barely breathing," he added.
"They have no savings or access to credit. These are the real faces of the world of work. If we don't help them now, they will simply perish," said Guy Ryder.