COVID-19 Crisis and the Informal Economy: Executive Summary


Key Findings

  • The impact on earnings among informal workers was as dire as projected by the ILO and other observers. The extent of disruption and its impact on different occupations varied considerably between cities, reflecting differences in intensity of restrictive measures and impacts on supply chains and markets.
  • Occupational sector and differentiated characteristics within these sectors strongly influenced how the COVID-19 crisis impacted workers.
  • Results confirm a disproportionate impact on women workers’ livelihoods.
  • Increased reliance on asset-depleting coping mechanisms and household responsibilities have put considerable economic and emotional strain on the households of the working poor.
  • In the absence of sufficient local government support, informal workers took their own health and safety initiatives and invested in protective protocols in spite of heavily constrained resources.
  • Government relief efforts were an important source of support where they reached workers, but were limited and uneven in reach, and frequently undermined by local anti-worker policies.
  •  MBOs (Membership-Based Organizations) played a crucial role in providing support to workers to mitigate the economic, physical and mental health impacts of COVID-19.

Other Resources


Informal Economy Topic
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