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Informal workers represent 61% of all workers globally—a total of 2 billion workers worldwide (ILO 2018). Of these, an estimated 1.6 billion—80%—could see their livelihoods destroyed due to the lockdowns and related shelter-at-home restrictions in response to COVID-19 (ILO 2020). Since long before the COVID-19 virus hit, informal workers have been struggling for justice, equality and dignity as workers and as human beings in large part because they are widely stigmatized by economists and policy makers as illegal and non-productive, while most are trying to earn an honest living under a very harsh policy and regulatory environment. The current COVID-19 crisis—both the pandemic itself and the policy response to it—has shown a spotlight on the fact that many of the frontline workers who provide essential goods and services—health, food, child care, transport—are informally employed as well as the injustices, inequities and indignities that informal workers face.


Chen, Martha. "COVID-19, Cities and Urban Informal Workers: India in Comparative Perspective." The Indian Journal of Labour Economics 63 (September 2020): 41–46.