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Socio-Economic implications on Informal Workers since Covid-19 outbreak

The aim of the study is to identify the challenges that informal workers are facing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and to what extent have those challenges affected their socio-economic status, specifically their employment status, income, debt, and living conditions.

Click to see impact of COVID-19 on Informal Workers

Impact COVID-19

Main Takeaways

Covid Impact

Women in informal work continue to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19

Women saw sharper decreases in their average income

  • 18% of female informal workers reported unemployment, the highest rate.

  • Their average weekly income continued to decrease by 23% in October 2020.

However, we observed some signs of improvement

  • Fewer women informal workers were likely to report not being able to meet their daily needs (-15% in October 2020).

But the need for support is still very important for women and is increasing

  • Women were more likely to need financial support and food.

  • In line with this, they were still more likely to point to basic needs such as food as a reason for borrowing money.

  • An increasing number reported to reducing their expenditure on food, and was higher compared to overall.

Border provinces and tourist hot spots are hardest hit

Provinces near neighboring countries faced the consequences of border closures

  • Informal workers in Pailin, bordering Thailand, saw the greatest reduction in their weekly earnings.

  • As a result, they were increasingly likely to report a reduction in expenditure on essential items like food and household items.

  • In Koh Kong and Banteay Meanchey, 31% reported unemployment, the highest rate among provinces in October 2020.

  • In Svay Rieng, on the Vietnamese border, weekly earnings for informal workers here reduced by 38% between July 2020 and October 2020.

A reduction in tourism is felt acutely in some provinces

  • Informal workers in Siem Reap continued to see a decline in their weekly earnings, which can be attributed to the increase in those reportedly working fewer days/hours per week.

  • Informal workers in Preah Sihanouk were more likely to report borrowing additional money  and saw a sharp increase in the number needing support with food.

  • Workers in both Preah Sihanouk and Siem Reap received a much higher amount of ID Poor in October 2020 – ($75 and $66 respectively).

Persons with disabilities are more heavily impacted by COVID-19

Persons with disabilities are facing overall negative impacts

  • 18% reported unemployment in October 2020, which is a very high number compared to the overall unemployement.

  • They saw a greater reduction in their average weekly earnings from $48 to $40 in October 2020 and continue to report the lowest average weekly income.​

  • They saw a reduction in the number receiving ID Poor, but were still more likely to receive it in general.

  • They are more likely to cite reasons related to COVID-19 as a reason for a reduction in income. 

  • They also saw a 10% increase in the number who are unable to meet their daily needs in January 2021.

However, there are some signs of improvements

  • Persons with disabilities saw an 11% increase in the number whose households were receiving ID Poor in January 2021 compared to October 2020.

  • Fewer were likely to report borrowing for the first time between July and October 2020.

Service sector workers continue to face the impacts of COVID-19 in 2021

COVID-19 behind the decrease in earnings for both unemployed and employed

  • Unemployed service sector workers were increasingly likely to cite COVID-19 as a reason for their reduction in income.

Financial cutbacks and borrowing still notably higher

  • Borrowing amongst those in existing debt increased for both those who are employed (16%) and unemployed in the service sector (15%) in 2021, which was higher than for other sectors, and stood at 31%.

  • Unemployed service sector workers saw the sharpest decline in the number who were decreasing their assets (-24%) in 2021 but is perhaps expected given the large number who reported this in October 2020 (53%).

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