Women are also disproportionately represented in sectors that don’t lend themselves to remote work, such as food service, hospitality, as well as wholesale and retail trade. The IMF analysis found approximately 20 million workers in those areas were at a high risk of losing their jobs.

The ability to telework varied dramatically from country to country, even within the same occupation. “More than half the households in most emerging and developing countries don’t even have a computer at home,” authors Mariya Brussevich, Era Dabla-Norris, and Salma Khalid wrote.

The economists also found large disparities between the workers at the top salary brackets and those who earned the least in those countries. “These results demonstrate how in the absence of supportive policies both during the lockdown period and in its aftermath, the economic fallout of the pandemic could widen existing income inequality across societies,” the authors wrote.

To help workers who can’t telework deal with losses in income and employment, they suggest that governments broaden social insurance and other programs such as wage subsidies, education, and skills training. The authors also call for investments in digital infrastructure to expand computer and internet access.

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