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Roughly Half of Liberia's Workforce Unemployed Due to Ebola Crisis

The Ebola crisis has become considerably detrimental to Liberia’s economy and other surrounding areas in regards to market prices, food security, migration, and employment.  

According to a phone survey done by the World Bank Group—along with the Liberian Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services and the Gallup Organization—nearly half of Liberian workers are officially jobless.

The country has witnessed its employment numbers fall gradually since the beginning of 2014.

From February to August, more than half of Liberia’s workforce was either working in agriculture or were self-employed. Wage-related jobs employed more than 40 percent of workers.

In October, the survey calculated that nearly 60 percent of the employed was working in all three sectors, but unemployment made-up 42 percent of the country’s workforce. 

The poll recently determined as of the beginning of November that the number of employed people working in agriculture or self-employed occupations is 36 percent.

Only 46 percent of Liberia is now unemployed, and one in two workers are now without work.

The reason behind this is that most employers have demanded their employees to stay home or have decided to terminate a large portion of their workers.

Self-employment appears to be getting the worst end of the stick, especially since a large number of businesses and markets have been shutdown. Agriculture, on the other hand, is clearly withstanding the effects of the virus.

However, the economic downturn is not only affecting those living in infected areas, but also those who reside in other areas that are not faced by the Ebola outbreak.

“Even those living in the most remote communities in Liberia, where Ebola has not been detected, are suffering the economic side-effects of this terrible disease,” Senior World Bank Official Ana Revenga told BBC News. 

Seventy percent of survey respondents claimed that they did not have enough money to buy food, whereas 90 percent said they were more concerned about their household lacking food.  

"Relief efforts must focus not only on those directly affected by the virus, but also on those in the poorest communities for whom market access, mobility and food security continue to get worse," added Revenga. 

Overall, nearly 14,000 people in West Africa have been victims to the disease.  Ebola has taken the lives of 5,000 people in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone combined—but Liberia makes up 2,000 of that loss.

While most World Bank economists feared that Liberia would face one of the worst financial outcomes, some believe that this will not be the case. 

It was first expected that the region would lose one-tenth of the $32 billion they predicted at the start of the outbreak. Now experts say that Liberia may only lose $3 to $4 billion (£1.9-2.5 billion) because of the disease. 

Most of the survey was based off of knowledge concerning Ebola and its effects on the economy.

The World Bank Group and its partners plan to track Liberia’s progress for the rest of the year. Final results will be provided at the end of December.


Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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