Women have borne brunt of wage decrease due to COVID-19, says ILO

Their working hours were reduced, says agency in report

Updated - December 03, 2020 01:18 pm IST

Published - December 03, 2020 01:09 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Photo: Twitter/@ilo

Photo: Twitter/@ilo

Women and lower-paid workers have disproportionately borne the brunt of the decrease in wages due to the COVID-19 crisis as their working hours were reduced, according to the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Global Wage Report 2020-2021.

The report, released on Wednesday, said global wage growth fluctuated between 1.6% and 2.2% in the four years preceding the pandemic, that is 2016 to 2019.

“In the first half of 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, a downward pressure on the level or growth rate of average wages was observed in two thirds of the countries for which recent data are available; in other countries average wages increased, largely artificially as a reflection of the substantial job losses among lower-paid workers,” the report said.

Also read | Global labour income estimated to have declined by $3.5 trillion in first 3 quarters of 2020: ILO

The ILO report said the impact of the crisis had been different for women and men. The report estimated that women workers in a selection of European countries would have faced an 8.1% reduction in wages between the first and second quarters of 2020, as opposed to 5.4% for men without payment of wage subsidies.

“Such a discrepancy was mainly caused by reduced working hours, more than by the difference in the number of lay-offs. The wage bill lost as a result of the drop in working hours was 6.9 per cent for women compared to 4.7 per cent for men,” the report stated.

Lower-paid workers have also been disproportionately hit by the crisis, leading to an increase in inequality, it said.

Also read | Nearly half of global workforce at risk of losing livelihoods due to COVID: ILO

“Studies have shown that in many countries, reductions in hours worked have impacted lower-skilled occupations – in particular those in elementary work – more than higher-paying managerial and professional jobs,” the report said.

The lowest-paid 50% of workers would have lost 17.3% of wages without wage subsidies, in comparison to 6.5% of all workers in selected European countries, it said.

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