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Young and low earners hardest hit by business closures due to coronavirus

YOUNG workers and people on low incomes are the most likely to be affected by business closures during the coronavirus pandemic, researchers said today.

A “remarkable concentration” of workers under 25 and those earning the lowest wages are employed in sectors that have shut down in response to Covid-19, a study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found.

Experts said that the results give rise to serious worries about the longer-term effect of the crisis on young people and inequality.

Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said that the report is further evidence of how the lowest-paid workers are “on track to bear the biggest brunt” of the crisis. 

He said: “The government’s programmes for income protection are better than nothing yet insufficient for the task at hand, as too many people are left unprotected. 

“Similarly, statutory sick pay of £95.85 per week isn’t enough at the best of times, and it is astonishing that it hasn’t been increased in the midst of a pandemic. 

“Low-paid workers need the government to address the inadequacies of these programmes immediately.”

Almost 35 per cent of employees in the bottom 10th of earnings have been working in areas directly affected by the lockdown, compared with just 5 per cent of those in the top tenth, according to the IFS.

And a large disparity was seen by age, with 30 per cent of workers under the age of 25 employed in low-paid sectors, compared with 13 per cent of those 25 and over. 

The report also found that 17 per cent of female workers were employed in sectors that had been shut down compared with 13 per cent of men.

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