A recent survey titled “COVID-19 Impact on Labour Market and Migration: Results from SANEM’s Survey” revealed that around 49 per cent of internal migrants had returned to their native villages as they could not afford expenses because of either job losses or non-payments or salary cuts under the pandemic impacts.
On the contrary, more workers employed in urban regions lost their jobs compared to workers employed in rural regions. However, almost everyone returned to the city at the time of the survey.
The survey also revealed that 34.2 per cent of different private sectors and 37.3 per cent of self-employed people suffered from pandemic-led income erosion, have not yet seen their incomes reach their pre-pandemic levels.
According to a SANEM survey, 14 per cent of the migrants lost jobs in the March-December period. Those who lost jobs were mostly from craft and allied trade.
The South Asian Network on Economic Modelling (SANEM) released the findings at a webinar on 10th March (Wednesday).
In January-February, 2021; the think tank conducted telephone surveys on 3,348 households – including 2,845 non-migrants’, 230 internal migrants, and 273 international migrants’ households across the country.
The major sectors (wage employed) where income was yet to recover were transportation (55.3 per cent), construction (40.5 per cent), agriculture, forestry and Fishing (38.4 per cent), manufacturing-RMG (37.8 per cent), manufacturing non-RMG (32.7 per cent) and wholesale and retail trade (18.7 per cent).
The survey is based on the SANEM-GED’s nationwide comprehensive household survey that was done on 10,500 households back in 2018.
62 per cent of wage earners reported a decline in their incomes in the period while 8 per cent of workers are till now jobless. Of all the self-employed in the survey, 43.2 per cent have now recovered from financial losses, while the remaining 19.5 per cent are not affected by the pandemic.
Besides, the survey showed that among the self-employed respondents’ incomes were yet to recover in the following sectors, transportation (57.6 per cent), hotel and restaurant (48.6 per cent), manufacturing (42.2 per cent), wholesale and retail trade (39.0 per cent), agriculture, forestry and fishing (31.5 per cent).
In Dhaka, incomes of 31.1 per cent wage workers and 41.8 per cent self-employed people are yet to recover, according to the SANEM survey.
It also found that the Barishal division has the highest unemployment rate of 12.94 per cent and Khulna has the lowest of 3.23 per cent.
Dr Sayema Haque Bidisha, research director of South Asian Network on Economic Modelling (SANEM) said, “Covid-induced income and employment losses have not recovered yet. Staff who saw salary cuts owing to the pandemic are yet to get back to what they would get at normal times. Besides, there is no recovery of businesses of self-employed people.”
The study also highlighted job shifting tendencies of the respondents during March-December last year when around 5.4 per cent of wage-employed respondents changed their professions. Even 61.5 per cent of respondents saw salary cuts and the highest cut was in Sylhet and the lowest in the Chattogram division.
SANEM also noted that 20 per cent of international migrants lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
The survey found that migrants who returned home from Middle Eastern and East Asian countries reported the highest job losses.
The highest 31.4 per cent job loss was in Malaysia, followed by 28.6 per cent in Kuwait 18.9 per cent in Saudi Arabia. Among the respondents, 5 per cent returned to home amid the pandemic.
Dr Tasneem Siddiqui, founder chair of Refugee and Migratory Movement Research Unit, said, “We have not been able to bring migrants under the social safety net yet.”
SANEM also suggests making strategies to integrate returnee migrants into the domestic market and adopting policies towards smooth migration through diplomatic negotiations and reducing migration costs.