UN workers’ group announces loss of 1.6 million jobs in Myanmar in 2021

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BANGKOK – The International Labor Organization says around 1.6 million jobs were lost in Myanmar in 2021, with women suffering the worst setbacks as work in factories, tourism and construction declined amid the pandemic and a military coup.

In a report on Friday, the ILO said the country was facing a “multidimensional humanitarian crisis” as political unrest, violence, insecurity and displacement added to unrest from the coronavirus pandemic.

Lost jobs, which include both formal and informal employment, accounted for around 8% of all jobs, as many people went out of work after the military took over on February 1, reversing the elected government of the country.

Myanmar’s economy is estimated to have shrunk by around 18% last year. The ILO said many workers had moved on to low-paying jobs or agricultural work, while conditions in factories deteriorated as the military administration cracked down on unionization.

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Around half of all adults in Myanmar work in agriculture-related jobs and the sector has been hit by lower exports, lower prices, disrupted access to credit given the greater turmoil in the financial sector due to the coup and flooding, according to the report.

Farmers are also suffering from the armed conflict, as security forces battle armed ethnic organizations and members of the political opposition amid widespread public resistance to the military takeover.

The report estimates that almost a third, or around 350,000, of construction jobs have disappeared as investors suspended or canceled projects. Around 80,000 jobs in tourism and hospitality have also been lost as hotels closed and the country closed to most travel due to the pandemic.

Most of these jobs were held by women, according to the ILO. So did most of the estimated 220,000 jobs lost in garment manufacturing, one of the fastest growing female job opportunities before the pandemic and the military takeover.

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The crisis has “reversed years of progress in the labor market and, if unresolved, will continue to widen gaps in decent work, especially for the most vulnerable workers and businesses”, a- he declared.

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