Myanmar loses 1.2 million jobs after coup, UN labour agency says

The months-long anti-coup protests and strikes have paralysed many industries. PHOTO: REUTERS

YANGON (BLOOMBERG) - Myanmar lost an estimated 1.2 million jobs in the second quarter following the February military takeover that paralysed an economy already weakened by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Estimates by the United Nations labour agency showed employment contracted 6 per cent in the second quarter of 2021, compared to the final quarter of last year, suggesting that more than 1.2 million workers were no longer employed.

The job losses are greater when compared to the final quarter of 2019 with about 3.2 million, or 15 per cent of all workers, no longer employed, according to ILO.

"Myanmar was already facing economic stress with jobs and livelihoods under threat as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic," Mr Donglin Li, the agency's representative for Myanmar, said in a statement.

"However, the estimates show a serious and rapid deterioration in employment in the first half of this year on a scale that could drive many in Myanmar into deep poverty."

A relentless surge of infections driven by the more contagious Delta variant over the past two months is adding to the challenges of containing the pandemic in one of South-east Asia's poorest nations.

Months-long anti-coup protests and strikes, which were met with violence and intimidation from the military, have paralysed many industries.

The labour agency said the political crisis has "exacerbated the severe impacts of Covid-19," and has "extensively destabilised the economy and halted an expected economic recovery."

The employment trends during the first half of 2021 indicated "considerable losses in both employment and working hours," with women estimated to have been impacted more than men.

While all sectors of the economy have been impacted, construction, garments, and tourism and hospitality are among the hardest hit, with employment dropping by 35 per cent, 31 per cent and 25 per cent respectively in the first half of this year, according to the agency's report.

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