what are the impacts of COVID-19 on labor demand and supply for low-wage workers for both employed workers (e.g., package, food service, or food delivery workers and grocery store employees) and unemployed or furloughed workers
Informal workers, whether wage workers or self-employed, are among the groups most at risk of losing their jobs and incomes. By definition, they do not have secure employment contracts, and therefore usually do not enjoy workers' benefits, social protection or workers' representation. Informality is especially widespread in agriculture and rural sectors, where more than 80 percent of the self-employed are informal, as well as the majority of wage workers and the totality of contributing family workers (among which women are overrepresented). In developing countries, over 90 percent of agricultural workers are informal (ILO, 2018). Particularly difficult is the situation of wage workers in the agricultural sector, who represent nearly half of the total agricultural labour force, but remain largely invisible to policy and decision-makers. They are already among the poorest workers and often employed on a seasonal, casual or temporary basis. This makes them even more vulnerable to the economic shocks brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
. Agri-food supply chains and markets are inevitably being disrupted due to lockdowns and restrictions of movement. The strict quarantines and the closure of roads disrupt logistics, which may hurt micro and small intermediaries in aggregation and distribution. The closure of markets and schools lead to the loss of selling and buying opportunities and decrease the demand for agricultural products, thus reducing the demand for agricultural labor. Where school-feeding programmes were directly sourcing from local producers, the negative impacts on informal workers in rural areas might be even more significant.
Seasonality is a factor influencing the demand for labor in the agricultural sector. Since planting and harvesting periods are more labor-intensive, should the lockdowns and restrictions overlap with the periods, a huge opportunity to complement household income for the poorest farmers through wage work in agriculture would be lost. Beyond agriculture, restrictions of movement in severely affected cities will impede rural people from moving to urban centers to seek for alternative job opportunities. They will negatively affect farmers’ livelihoods by limiting their ability to work for a wage, hire temporary workers, and buy/sell inputs/outputs, leading to a greater risk of food insecurity