Economic impact of Covid-19 compounding existing inequalities in Wales, report finds

Wales’s lowest earners were ten times more likely to have been affected by the Covid-19 shutdown than those on the highest salaries, research shows.

The briefing paper from Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre says almost half of those bringing home the smallest incomes were working in jobs that were forced to stop due to the lockdown.

As well as low earners, the study shows the economic disruption caused by coronavirus is also being felt most acutely by younger workers, women and those from BAME backgrounds.

Researchers estimate there were approximately 228,000 workers in Wales employed in sectors shut down by social distancing measures, amounting to 16% of the working-age population.

Employees under the age of 25 were almost three times as likely to have been working in these sectors. The impact also varies by gender, with 18% of female employees working in shut-down sectors compared to 14% of male employees.

The study shows younger women have been hit particularly hard, with 39% of all female employees under 25 working in shut-down sectors.

Over two-fifths (44%) of workers of Bangladeshi ethnicity were employed in shut-down sectors prior to the crisis, almost three times the share of those of White British ethnicity (16%) and compared to 24% of Black Caribbean and 17% of Pakistani ethnicity.

Jesús Rodríguez, of the Wales Fiscal Analysis programme, said: “Covid-19 has had a severe effect on the Welsh economy, evidenced by the huge number of workers being supported through the furlough and income support schemes and an unprecedented rise in Universal Credit claimants.

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