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The monthly income of wage-earners in four select districts came down around 70 per cent in a year (November 2019 to November 2020), according to a SANEM survey unveiled on Tuesday.

South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM) and ActionAid Bangladesh jointly conducted the survey titled-"Pandemic and the Youth in Bangladesh: Survey Findings from Four Selected Districts"- Kurigram, Satkhira, Rajshahi and Barguna.

A total of 1541 households were interviewed as part of the survey conducted from 13 December to 27 December, 2020. Mahtab Uddin, lecturer of Economics department at Dhaka University and Research Economist of SANEM, delivered the keynote presenting the findings of the survey during Tuesday's webinar.

"In order to analyze the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the selected areas, households were asked to report changes in their economic activity since the start of the pandemic. 69.76 per cent wage-employed respondents reported that their monthly salary had decreased, 27.98 per cent reported no change in salary while only 2.26 per cent reported an increase in their salary," Mahtab added.

Mahtab said 4.52 per cent of the surveyed respondents reported that the main earning member had shifted to a different profession either because of a low wage (47.37 per cent), wage cut (18.42 per cent), loss of employment (10.53 per cent) or because they were forced to switch to a different profession (7.89 per cent). For 81.76 per cent of self-employed respondents, profit earnings had declined.

"The most common types of problems faced by self-employed workers included decrease in sales (52.04 per cent), decrease in profits (50 per cent), and decrease in production (34.01 per cent)," the data showed.

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He also added that almost one-third of households also claimed that their business had to be closed either permanently or temporarily since March 2020. Several reasons were identified behind the business closures such as the economic lockdown, lack of demand, fall in price, increased cost of production, COVID-19 related additional costs and so on.

"Due to the various internal and external shocks faced by the households during the pandemic such as loss of income of main earner, unusually high prices of necessary goods, floods and erosions, households had to adopt a number of coping strategies."

In opening remarks, Farah Kabir, Country Director of ActionAid Bangladesh said the survey will aid in formulating effective policies to facilitate COVID-19 response and recovery process for social sectors such as education, healthcare, gender-based violence at the local level.

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