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Working women, the young and low-paid hardest hit by coronavirus, think tank warns

Working women are more likely to feel the health impacts of coronavirus (PA)

2 min read

Working women, the young and low-paid workers are the most likely to be impacted by the health and economic effects of the coronavirus, a leading think tank has said.

A new report from the Resolution Foundation said working women were most likely to be hit be the health risks of the pandemic, with the young and low-paid suffering the worst effects of the economic crisis.

According to the group, around 4 million of the UK's 8.6 million key workers are currently employed in health care, food industry and pharmaceutical retail roles - sectors which are largely dominated by women.

The study found 36% of women are employed in key worker roles in those areas compared to just 18% of men, including two-in-five working mothers.

Meanwhile, young people and those on lower salaries are the most likely to be employed in those sectors of the economy hardest hit by the lockdown, such as hospitality, travel and leisure businesses.

According to the report, 16-24 year olds are twice as likely to work in those impacted sectors than other age groups, with one-in-four of the lowest 10% of earners also employed in similar roles.

The figures come after Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed that 4 million workers were already recieving support through the government's job retention scheme, which could be extended for a second time after it expires at the end of June.

Mr Sunak said he hoped the measures, alongside the Government's other economic packages would help the country "bounce back to the lives we once knew".

But Maja Gustafsson, Researcher at the Resolution Foundation, said ministers should maintain their "focus" on supporting those most impacted by the pandemic once the lockdown is lifted.

"The current crisis has affected almost every worker across the country - from having to work from home to risking infection at work or losing your livelihood altogether," she said.

"But women, young people and the low paid are most likely to bear the biggest health and economic risks from the crisis, which has shone a spotlight on the vitality of work that has been under-valued and under-paid for far too long."

She added: "That focus needs to be maintained as the Government aims to steer the economy towards recovery - which will mean a welcome move back to work for some, but a move from furloughing to unemployment for others.

"It is vital that policy focuses, and stays focuses, on supporting those who have been at the epicentre of the current crisis."

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