Targeted responses needed to combat Youth unemployment crisis — ADB-ILO Report

ADB – News Release | 9 September 2020

SUVA, FIJI (9 September 2020) — Young people in the Asia and Pacific region will be hit hardest and likely bear the long-term economic costs of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to a new report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) presented today.

The joint Tackling the COVID-19 Youth Employment Crisis in Asia and the Pacific report says COVID-19 has triggered a massive disruption of labor markets, which has had a disproportionate impact on youth unemployment.

Job loss among the youth will continue throughout 2020 and could result in youth unemployment rates doubling. In Fiji, the youth unemployment rate may rise from 14.8% to almost 30%, increasing up to 36.8% as the COVID-19 crisis gets drawn out.

“Young women, in particular, have been severely impacted by the spike in youth unemployment in the region, largely because they are overrepresented in the sectors most hit by the economic effects of COVID-19,” said ADB Pacific Subregional Office Regional Director Masayuki Tachiiri during the Pacific launch.

The joint report says about 100 million—nearly half of all the young people working in the region at the onset of the crisis—were employed in four hardest hit sectors: wholesale and retail trade and repair, manufacturing, rental and business services, and accommodation and food services.

“The pandemic is inflicting a triple shock on young people: destroying their employment, disrupting education and training, and placing major obstacles in the way of those seeking to enter the labor market. There is an urgent need to help young people develop resilience to face these challenges, as well as develop the capacity of institutions to implement effective measures,” said ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries Director Matin Karimli.

The joint report recommends targeted responses to address the youth unemployment crisis, such as comprehensive labor market policies including wage subsidies and public employment programs; job information and employment services expansion for young jobseekers; apprenticeship programs and demand-driven skills development; increased funds for upskilling and reskilling; and digital inclusion investment for equitable access to education, training, and entrepreneurship. These interventions should reach the most vulnerable youth including the poorest and marginalized young women and meaningfully engage young people in policy development and social dialogue.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

Download the report: Tackling the COVID-19 Youth Employment Crisis in Asia and the Pacific

This report assesses the damaging impacts of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on youth employment in Asia and the Pacific and recommends critical policy responses.

The report—a collaborative effort between the International Labour Organization and ADB—finds that the employment prospects of the region’s 660 million young people are severely challenged. They will be hit harder than adults and risk bearing higher longer-term economic and social costs. The report urges governments to engage with young people in policy and social dialogue and to adopt urgent, large-scale, and targeted interventions. These need to focus on labor market policies such as youth-targeted wage subsidies and public employment programs, and measures to mitigate disruptions to education and training.


  • Introduction
  • Youth and the Labour Market in Asia and the Pacific before the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on Youth Employment – Preliminary Evidence
  • Estimated Youth Job Losses and Youth Unemployment for the Year 2020
  • Policy Recommendations to Tackle the Regional Youth Employment Crisis
  • Annex: Methodology for Estimating Youth Job Losses and Unemployment
  • Communicable and vector-borne diseases, Diseases, Health, Inclusive growth, Labor and employment
  • 42
  • 8.5 x 11
  • 978-92-2-0326039 (web PDF)

Sally R. Shute-Trembath
Senior External Relations Officer
Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office in Sydney, Australia
Asian Development Bank
Tel +61 2 8270-9444


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