Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean



Coronavirus crisis costs Serbia 510,000 full-time jobs

More than 700,000 Serbian workers in immediate danger (photo: EBRD)
More than 700,000 Serbian workers in immediate danger (photo: EBRD)
SERBIA. A report by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 14.8% of working time will be lost in Serbia in the second quarter of 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19. According to the text, published on Tuesday 15 September 2020, this is equivalent to the loss of 510,000 full-time jobs.

The EBRD and ILO said Serbia had offered "the most generous and comprehensive economic package among the Western Balkan economies" and had thus been able to contain "the spread of poverty". Reduced working hours and leave schemes have therefore helped to limit the breakage. However, the persistence of the health crisis has raised fears that job maintenance programmes will be interrupted, leading to increased unemployment.

The report identifies around ten sectors that could be affected: wholesale and retail trade, real estate, transport, services, forestry and logging, and agricultural production and livestock farming. "700,000 employees are in immediate danger," the study points out, adding that, of this affected workforce, nearly 314,000 are self-employed and more than 267,000 are informal workers.

More than one in four Serbian micro-enterprises have completely ceased their activities to date, despite subsidies granted to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises for the maintenance of employment covering 65% of the total cost of labour. The EBRD and the ILO suggest to the government "a more selective and targeted approach to support the most vulnerable citizens, a large number of temporary and seasonal workers, and the optimisation of the new youth employment programme".

Frédéric Dubessy

Tuesday, September 15th 2020

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