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COVID-19 and Labor Markets in Southeast Asia—Impacts on Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam

Asian Development Bank

2021

Asia Pacific Vietnam The Philippines Indonesia

Report/Paper

Workplace Gender Equality

COVID-19 and Labor Markets in Southeast Asia—Impacts on Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam

COVID-19 and Labor Markets in Southeast Asia—Impacts on Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam

COVID-19 and Labor Markets in Southeast Asia—Impacts on Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam aims to help policymakers determine priorities, constraints and opportunities for developing effective labour market strategies for economic recovery and beyond.

This report discusses the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the labour adjustment processes in five South East Asian countries. It also explores the labour market situation and trends in these countries before the pandemic and how COVID-10 affect the labour markets in the region.

The report also highlights major inequalities in South East Asia’s labour markets across groups and various dimensions such as age, gender, skills and geographic location, further exacerbated by the pandemic.

The report’s findings show that governments implemented over 90 policy interventions since the beginning of the pandemic. It further assesses these policy measures and analyses policy responses when it comes to timeliness, coverage, adequacy and the extent to which they have filled pre-existing social protection gaps.

Highlights

  • The severity of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on South East Asian economies and labour markets depend on different contextual factors like the effects on health, stringency measures, and economic and labour market structure.
  • Workers still employed during the pandemic worked fewer hours or no hours at all because companies limited their operations and resorted to intensive margins of adjustments to preserve employment relationships.
  • More women exited the labour force following job loss, while more men transitioned to unemployment, partly because women take on a larger share of the care burden.
  • The pandemic highlighted the significant vulnerability of low-skilled workers to external shocks and the continued countercyclical role played by low-skilled jobs in absorbing displaced labour during crises.
  • Social protection has constituted the lion’s share of the fiscal response in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Contents

  • Tables, Figures, and Boxes
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Abbreviations
  • Executive Summary
  • Chapter 1: COVID-19 Impacts and Labor Market Adjustments
    • Southeast Asia’s Labor Markets Prepandemic
    • Impact Channels, Aggregate and Sectoral Effects
    • Labor Reallocation
    • Intensive Margins of Adjustment: Working-Hour Reductions
  • Chapter 2: Differential Impacts of the Pandemic
    • Impact by Demographic Groups
    • Impact across Occupations and Skill Levels
    • Impacts on Various Groups of Workers
    • Impacts across Firms
  • Chapter 3: Social Protection and Labor Policy Response
    • Social Protection before the Pandemic
    • What Policies Have Mitigated the Impact?
    • Summary and Concluding Remarks
  • Appendix
  • References

 

This report was originally published on the Asian Development Bank website.

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