Press Release

ILO estimates reveal 1.6 million jobs lost in Myanmar in 2021

28 January 2022

Military takeover hammers labour market already weakened by impact of COVID-19, women workers hit hardest.

Yangon (ILO News) - Some 1.6 million jobs were lost in Myanmar in 2021, according to new estimates released by the International Labour Organization (ILO), with the military takeover compounding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One year on from the military takeover in Myanmar on 1 February 2021, the labour market remains fragile.

Working hours are estimated to have decreased 18 per cent in 2021 relative to 2020, equivalent to the working time of at least 3.1 million full-time workers. These working-hour losses were driven by employment losses as well as increased underemployment.

Key sectors have suffered considerable impacts. Rural farmers were hard hit by armed conflict, violence and insecurity. Construction, garments, and tourism and hospitality were also among the hardest hit industries in 2021, with year-on-year employment losses reaching an estimated 31 per cent, 27 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively.

The losses in both working hours and employment were disproportionately greater for women than men overall. Women also accounted for an overwhelming majority of job losses in garments as well as tourism and hospitality.

“The military takeover and COVID-19 pandemic have put millions of workers in Myanmar in a grim situation.  We are witnessing a reversal of years of progress in the labour market. Should this continue, it can only lead to increased poverty and insecurity across the country,” said Mr. Donglin Li, ILO Myanmar Liaison Officer/Representative.

Further details can be found at Employment in Myanmar in 2021: A rapid assessment (January 2022).

The ILO is a specialised United Nations Agency bringing together governments, employers and workers from 187 member States to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.

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Steve Needham

Senior Communications Officer ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

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