Preliminary estimates by the ILO indicate that in 2009 unemployment in Asia-Pacific could increase by between 7 and 23 million workers. The countries experiencing the greatest impact will be those with slowing economies and rapid labour force growth, such as Cambodia, Pakistan and the Philippines. Emerging economies whose growth depends heavily on exports to the United States and the European Union, such as Cambodia, China, Philippines and Vietnam, are already slowing down markedly.
The specific humanitarian impacts of the global economic crisis are not yet clear. Previous crises suggest increases in unemployment, food and fuel prices, and the number of people living in poverty. By some estimates, as many as 105 million more people would become poor as a result of a 10 percent food price increase – a potential reversal of about 7 years worth of poverty reduction. Those most at risk are the poor, women labourers in the manufacturing sector, the youngest and oldest populations, and socially excluded groups.
Additional concerns include:
- the retrenchment of migrants and a reduction in remittances
- the impact on maternal and child health
- increases in youth employment
- the growth of the informal economy
- the withdrawal of children from education
- the threat of child labour
- the impact on nutrition.
The literature highlights the crucial importance of safety nets in tempering the impact of the crisis and avoiding the need for poor families to resort to often harmful coping mechanisms.