08/19/2020, 16.06
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Asia-Pacific: The coronavirus increases unemployment among young people

For the International Labour Organisation and the Asian Development Bank, employment prospects for 663 million young people of working age are dim with some 10-15 million jobs at risk. China reported the largest increase in unemployment so far. By the end of the year, the unemployment rate in several countries will be double at least. Young workers are found in the sectors most affected by the pandemic. Targeted policies by governments are needed.

Bangkok (AsiaNews) – Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the number of unemployed young people in the Asia-Pacific region is up and rising.

A report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) warns that about 10-15 million people aged 15 and 24 are at risk of losing their jobs this year.

The study shows that, as Asian economies sharply contract, job prospects for 663 million young people of working age are dim.

Of the countries surveyed, China (with Hong Kong) recorded the highest rise in the unemployment rate, from 7.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2019 to 10.1 per cent in 2020.

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, youth unemployment in the country hit 13.8 per cent in April with a slight drop in July.

In the same period, the number of unemployed also increased in Indonesia (+0.9), Malaysia (+0.7), Australia (+0.6), Vietnam (+0.5) and Japan (+0.3).

Unemployment remained stable in Thailand; and despite the recessionary effects of COVID-19, South Korea saw unemployment decline by 0.3 per cent; 0.1 per cent in New Zealand.

The forecast for the end of the year are negative though. Both the ILO and ADB expect the unemployment rate in Cambodia, the Philippines, Fiji, Nepal, Pakistan and Thailand to at least double over 2019.

The region’s young people are more at risk than older age groups because half of them (about 110 million) work in sectors most affected by the pandemic crisis, namely wholesale and retail, services, hotels and restaurants, manufacturing.

With education and training put on hold, the picture gets worse. For this reason, the LO and ADB urge the region’s governments to adopt economic policies that target young people.

Government should provide unemployment benefits or subsidies to complement wage cuts, as well as implement public employment programmes and measures to mitigate the impact of school closures on students.

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