Myanmar lost 1.6 million jobs in 2021 amid COVID, coup: ILO

International Labour Organization says Southeast Asian country’s labour market remains fragile after tumultuous year.

Myanmar refugees
Myanmar's economy has been hard-hit by the pandemic and the 2021 military coup [File: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters]

Myanmar lost about 1.6 million jobs in 2021 amid the combined shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and military coup, the International Labour Organization said on Friday.

The Southeast Asian country saw hours worked fall an estimated 18 percent in 2021 compared with the previous year, an amount equivalent to the time put in by 3.1 million full-time workers, according to the UN agency.

Agriculture, construction, garment-making, and tourism and hospitality were among the industries hardest hit by the aftermath of the February 2021 coup, losing between 27 and 31 percent of all jobs.

Rural farmers were also severely affected by “armed conflict, violence and insecurity, leading to displacement and undermining livelihoods”, the UN agency said.

The losses in both working hours and employment disproportionately hit women, who accounted for an overwhelming majority of job losses in the garment and tourism and hospitality sectors.


The UN body said the country’s labour market remained “fragile” nearly a year after the coup.

“The military takeover and COVID-19 pandemic have put millions of workers in Myanmar in a grim situation,” ILO Myanmar Liaison Officer Donglin Li said.

“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.”

Myanmar has been racked by instability and violence since Senior General Min Aung Hlaing seized power from Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government on February 1, 2021.

In October, the International Monetary Fund estimated Myanmar’s economy shrank by 17.9 per cent in 2021, after posting growth of 3.2 per cent in 2020.

Source: Al Jazeera