Health and Healthcare Systems

One in two people globally lost income due to the pandemic

Unemployed people line up to fill out applications while looking for job opportunities in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil.

People have been affected differently by COVID-19 across the globe with regards to job loss. Image: REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

Nita Bhalla
Journalist, Thomson Reuters Foundation
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This article is part of: The Jobs Reset Summit
  • One in two people have lower earnings due to the pandemic and people in lower income countries were affected the most, according to a global poll.
  • Women were hit particularly hard as they are over-represented in low-paid precarious sectors such as retail, tourism and food services.
  • More than half of people surveyed said they temporarily stopped working at their job or business - translating to about 1.7 billion adults globally.

One in two people worldwide saw their earnings drop due to the coronavirus, with people in low-income countries particularly hard hit by job losses or cuts to their working hours, research has shown.

U.S.-based polling company Gallup, which surveyed 300,000 people across 117 countries, found that half of those with jobs earned less because of COVID-19 pandemic disruptions. This translated to 1.6 billion adults globally, it said.

"Worldwide, these percentages ranged from a high of 76% in Thailand to a low of 10% in Switzerland," said researchers in a statement.

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In Bolivia, Myanmar, Kenya, Uganda, Indonesia, Honduras and Ecuador, more than 70% people polled said they took home less than before global health crisis. In the United States, this figure dropped to 34%.

The COVID-19 crisis has hit workers across the world, particularly women, who are over-represented in low-paid precarious sectors such as retail, tourism and food services.

A study by the international charity Oxfam said the pandemic had cost women around the world $800 billion in lost income.

The Gallup poll found that more than half of those surveyed said they temporarily stopped working at their job or business - translating to about 1.7 billion adults globally.

In 57 countries including India, Zimbabwe, the Philippines, Kenya, Bangladesh, El Salvador, more than 65% of respondents said they stopped working for a time.

Countries where people were least likely to say they stopped working were predominantly developed, high-income countries.

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Fewer than one in 10 of those who had jobs in Austria, Switzerland and Germany said they had stopped working temporarily. In the U.S., the figure was 39%, research showed.

The poll also showed that one in three people surveyed lost their job or business due to the pandemic - translating into just over one billion people globally.

These figures also varied across nations with lower income countries such as the Philippines, Kenya and Zimbabwe showing more than 60% of respondents lost their jobs or businesses, compared to 3% in Switzerland and 13% in the United States.

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Health and Healthcare SystemsJobs and the Future of WorkForum Institutional
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