Unsafe Jobs, labour market risk and social protectionECONOMIC POLICY, 2022
New research proposes a new classification of occupations based on the extent to which they put workers at risk of being infected by airborne viruses – whether they are ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ jobs. Applying the analysis to data from 27 European countries plus the United States, the study provides insights into the contrasting health and labour market risks facing different workers.
For example, those who are low educated, self-employed and immigrants are more likely to hold unsafe jobs in essential occupations, and are therefore more at risk of infection. Women and the young are over-represented in the pool of workers in unsafe and non-essential activities, and therefore at higher labour market risk. About 60% of unsafe jobs are in these non-essential occupations: firms restructuring in these sectors may lead to a dramatic drop in labour demand hitting these twice-vulnerable workers.
The analysis has important policy implications. It can be useful in targeting vaccination efforts by occupation, giving priority to workers in unsafe and essential activities, as well as targeting social protection policies for sectors, occupations and firms hardest hit by the pandemic.