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A Kashmiri man waits for customers during a nationwide lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus A Kashmiri man waits for customers behind a half-closed shutter during a nationwide lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus, in Srinagar, Kashmir, May 16, 2020 (AP photo by Mukhtar Khan).

To Save the Economy From COVID-19, Protect Informal Workers

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Editor’s Note: WPR has made this article, as well as a selection of others from our COVID-19 coverage that we consider to be in the public interest, freely available for an initial two-week period.

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a harsh light on the long-standing structural weaknesses of global labor markets and of the protections available for workers. The estimated 2 billion people worldwide toiling away in the informal sector—in jobs that are not backed by contracts or institutions, and that are not monitored or taxed by governments—are the new economically vulnerable. Across the globe, in developing and developed economies alike, these often-overlooked workers are bearing the brunt of COVID-19 and its accompanying economic depression, and will continue to even when economies start to recover. Because many of these employees work off the books or depend on consumer spending, they will also be some of the last to be reemployed. ...

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