In Depth

Coronavirus lockdown hits young, low-paid, and women worst

A new study has revealed that the industries most affected by the economic shutdown employ some of the most vulnerable members of society

As the coronavirus lockdown abruptly cuts off the income of businesses and individuals, research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has revealed that young workers and the lowest-paid are some of those likely to suffer the most from the economic shock.

The government-ordered lockdown has closed schools, shuttered restaurants, shops, and gyms, bringing large swathes of industry grinding to a halt.

The IFS analysis shows that low-paid workers are seven times more likely to work in a shut-down sector than those on a higher wage, and those under 25 are two and a half times more likely than those 26 and over.

In addition, women - who work disproportionately in retail and hospitality - are about a third more likely to work in an affected sector than men.

“There is a remarkable concentration of younger and lower-paid workers in the sectors most affected by the current lockdown,” wrote Xiaowei Xu, who authored the report. “Women are also more likely to be affected than men.”

“Fortunately, in the short run, many will have the cushion of the incomes of parents or other household members. But for the longer term there must be serious worries about the effect of this crisis on the young especially and on inequality more generally,” she added.

Almost two thirds of under-25s who work in collapsed industries now live with their parents, the report said, but as ITV News points out, “while sheltering with a parent may offer the young some protection, it inevitably damages feelings of independence and self-esteem.”

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“This crisis has shown everyone just how crucial so many low paid workers are to our health, safety and well-being. Millions of front line workers aren’t paid enough to live on, but where would we be without them? Not just in this crisis, every single day of the year,” said Tim Roache, the general secretary of the GMB union.

“When this is over, we need to have a national conversation about how we value the people who care for us,” he added.

At the same time, a survey by the Centre for Economics and Business Research has revealed that the lockdown is costing the economy £2.4 billion every day.

The survey also found that the country’s economic output has fallen by 31% since the introduction of social distancing measures.

“The manufacturing sector is seeing the highest fall in output in absolute terms, as many workers producing goods cannot work and demand for non-essential goods is slashed as a result of the worldwide pandemic,” reports The Telegraph.

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