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Young, low paid and women to be hit hardest by Covid-19 shutdown

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Women, young workers and the low paid will be hardest hit by the coronavirus lockdown, a study reveals.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said there was “a remarkable concentration of younger and lower paid workers in the sectors most affected by the current lockdown”.

Young workers are likely to be hit hardest, with employees under 25 around two and half times as likely to work in a sector that is now shut down such as restaurants, shops and leisure facilities.

Companies that are shut down as result of social distancing measures employ nearly a third of all employees under the age of 25 compared to just one in eight workers aged 25 and over.

Low earners will also be badly hit. The IFS found they are seven times as likely as high earners to have worked in a sector that is now shut down.

Women were about one third more likely to work in a shutdown sector than men, with one in six (17% of) female employees working in these sectors, compared to one in seven (13% of) male employees.

The IFS said one mitigating factor was that the majority of younger workers and lower earners live with parents or partners whose earnings are likely to be less affected, so many may suffer smaller hits to their living standards than otherwise.

This is particularly the case for young people whose jobs are most at risk, since over half (61%) of under-25s who work in shut-down sectors were found to live with their parents.

Xiaowei Xu, senior research economist at IFS, said: “There is a remarkable concentration of younger and lower paid workers in the sectors most affected by the current lockdown. Women are also more likely to be affected than men.

“Fortunately, in the short run, many will have the cushion of the incomes of parents or other household members. But for the longer term there must be serious worries about the effect of this crisis on the young especially and on inequality more generally.”

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