Social challenges

Migrants hit harder by COVID-19 crisis

06/04/2022 PNG

Migrants went from being among the frontline workers throughout the pandemic - with a disproportionally high risk of COVID-19 infection and death - to victims of job losses in sectors such as domestic services and hospitality - the result of temporary contracts, lower salaries and sparser contact networks.

By mid-2020, the employment rate had dropped by an average of 3.3 percentage points for migrants compared to the native-born across 28 OECD countries, relative to the previous year.

By mid-2021, migrants’ employment was still 1.3 percentage points lower than in mid-2020, compared to only 0.6 percentage points for native born.

While there was significant variation across countries, unemployment seems to have hit migrants harder than native-born individuals, and for longer periods of time.

In Canada and the United States, employment of migrants fell by more than 11 percentage points while declines were generally smaller in Europe. Nevertheless, in Spain, for example, where migrants are particularly over-represented in temporary jobs, their employment fell by more than 8 percentage points, compared to just over 3 percentage points for native-born individuals.

Recovery plans could be leveraged to support progress for migrants in the three pillars of job quality identified in the OECD Job Quality framework: earnings quality, job security, and the quality of the working environment.

Policy actions must address the root causes of discrimination, which contributes to the persistent structural disadvantages faced by migrants and ethnic/racial minorities.

See also: The unequal impact of COVID-19: A spotlight on frontline workers, migrants and racial/ethnic minorities