The Philippines Saw The Highest Working-Hour Losses In Southeast Asia In 2020
According to a report by the International Labor Organization, the Philippines had the highest working hour losses in Southeast Asia for 2020 amid the pandemic. The country saw a decline of 13.6% in work hours in 2020. In contrast, countries such as Brunei Darussalam, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Thailand saw a drop in work hours by 4.3% to 4.5% respectively.
There were several driving factors that created the gap between the working hours between the Philippines and the countries mentioned above including the measures to curb the pandemic, stringency and length of the lockdown. The Philippines had the longest and strictest quarantine measures in 2020. The ILO added that some countries have been more affected compared to others due to their participation in global supply chains. Another factor is the countries’ capacity to provide fiscal stimulus to their economies and to keep workers in employment which differed vastly.
The pandemic slashed 10.6 million employment opportunities in the entire ASEAN alone. The region in total lost 8.4% working hours in 2020, this equates to a working time of about 24 million full-time workers. Meanwhile, labor income dropped by 7.8%.
SEAN or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is an economic union of 10 member states in the region, comprising Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam.
In its forecast, the ASEAN is projected to only partially recover in 2022 but is fully expected to do so by 2020. The projection took into consideration mobility restrictions, progress on vaccinations, and the pace of economic recovery. Whereas this year, the region is expected to lose 7.4% working hours as a baseline estimate, where 7% is the most pessimistic forecast and 7.9% in a worst-case scenario. These projections are in comparison to the pre-pandemic levels.
So far, the region has already seen a 6.1% loss in working hours in the first quarter of 2021, and 6.2% in the second quarter. Labor market conditions are expected to deteriorate further due to the ongoing wave of variants causing the spike of cases.