“COVID-19, the biggest impact on low-wage and low-educated people”

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in the report ‘COVID-19 and well-being: life in the panddmic’ published on November 25, Those who received the most were low-wage, low-educated workers.” The report investigated the impact of COVID-19 on people’s lives in 2020 for OECD member countries. The OECD explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has not only had a devastating impact on people’s physical health and death, but it also has a devastating impact on all areas of our lives and work.

According to the OECD, from March 2020 to early May 2021, the average number of deaths in 33 OECD member countries increased by 16% compared to the previous four years. In addition, the rate of complaints of social isolation and loneliness, worry and anxiety also increased significantly. As average working hours fell sharply in 2020, government support helped maintain average household income levels. But even though job-maintenance schemes provided protection for workers, in 19 OECD member countries, 14% of workers felt they could lose their job in three months, and in 25 member countries, a third of workers suffered financial hardship. reported by the OECD.

The impact of unemployment in 2020, the first year of COVID-19, was concentrated on low-wage workers. In all 22 European countries except Germany and Latvia, low-wage workers accounted for more than 50% of the total unemployed. In the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Finland and Hungary, the number exceeded 70%.

Telecommuting and teleworking, which have been spreading since the outbreak of COVID-19, have focused on highly educated workers. According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Statistics from August to December 2020, more than 60% of four-year college graduates had experience switching from face-to-face work to telecommuting, but less than 40% of college graduates. Only 20% of high school graduates and those with less than 10% had an educational background. Higher education is both sides of the same coin with high income. In most OECD member countries, the proportion of high-income workers working from home was overwhelmingly higher than that of low-income workers. The proportion of low-income workers who quit their jobs due to the spread of COVID-19 was overwhelmingly higher than that of high-income workers.

Interestingly, in Sweden, which has an active labor market policy and a strong welfare system, the difference between high- and low-income workers in the proportion of telecommuting was not large. The rate of conversion to telecommuting was roughly the same in both cases, around 30%. However, even in Sweden, the rate of telecommuting according to educational background was around 40% for those who graduated from a junior college or higher, more than double that of those with a high school diploma. In this regard, it was found that the benefits of telecommuting and teleworking mainly went to high-income workers and highly educated workers, who are the upper classes of the labor market.

Low-educated workers suffered more financial difficulties and job losses than higher-educated workers. Compared with middle-aged workers, young workers were more exposed to inequality in the labor market as they experienced more unemployment and loss of income.

Of course, it was found that telecommuting was not positive in all respects. As time passed since its introduction, work stress increased, and many telecommuting workers felt burdened by the “always on standby” state. Younger workers and new workers were more likely to complain of a sense of disconnection from the organization due to telecommuting. In most OECD countries, the number of migrant workers declined in the first year of COVID-19, and in the United States, the unemployment rate for people of color was higher than for whites. The unemployment rate for blacks was nearly 10%, twice that of whites. Black women workers are the biggest victims of COVID-19 in the US labor market.

The OECD report analyzed that the experience of COVID-19 infectious disease shows various differences according to age, gender and race, and in particular, has an unequal effect depending on job type and income and skill level.

The report, published on the 1st anniversary of the launch of the Center for Well-being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity (WISE), established by the OECD, examines the impact of COVID-19 on income and wealth, work and job quality, housing, health, knowledge and skills. , environment, subjective well-being, safety, work-life balance, social connectivity, and civic engagement are analyzed across 11 themes. The report recommends that the government focus on the vulnerable groups such as young people, women and low-skilled workers, while presenting household jobs and financial stability as tasks that the government must urgently implement for recovery.

By Yoon Hyo-won, staff reporter ([email protected])


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