68% lost jobs in Dhaka, Chittagong due to Covid-19

Around 68 per cent of the people who were working in Bangladesh’s urban areas of Dhaka and Chittagong have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, a new World Bank report has revealed.

The rate of the job losses was 76 per cent in the capital, while it was 59 per cent in the port city, The Daily Star reported on Monday citing the survey, titled “Losing Livelihoods: The labour market impacts of Covid-19 in Bangladesh”, as saying.

Slum areas witnessed higher, 71 per cent, job losses than non-slum areas where it was 61 per cent, it said, adding that some of the people expecting to resume their previous jobs may not be able to do so, thus the actual job losses may have been even higher.

In Dhaka, one in four respondents reported not actively working in the week preceding their interviews but having worked before March 25. This figure was 22 per cent in Chattogram.

According to the World Bank report, the income losses were widespread across the three areas.

In Dhaka and Chittagong, about 80 per cent of wage earners and 94 per cent of business owners said their earnings were lower than usual.

Median wages for salaried and daily workers declined by about 37 per cent compared to usual earnings immediately before the Covid-19 struck. The decline was higher in Dhaka, 42 per cent, and in Chattogram, it was 33 per cent.

Given the low rates of female labour force participation, women appear to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic and have experienced relatively higher job losses, The Daily Star quoted the report as saying.

To cope with the income losses, 69 per cent household reduced their food consumption; the same number of people took help from their friends.

Thirty-eight per cent household surveyed received government help, while 42 per cent used their savings, according to the World Bank data.

In the meantime, high levels of uncertainty in the job market are generating stress and anxiety that may further exacerbate health impacts associated with the pandemic, notably in mental health, it said.

In poor areas of the two cities, eight in 10 adults reported experiencing stress or anxiety that affected their ability to carry out their day-to-day activities.