First out, Last in Amid Covid-19: Employment Vulnerability of Youths in Arab Countries
Shireen AlAzzawi and Vladimir Hlasny
This study estimates the impacts of the evolving COVID crisis on the trends in workers’ employment outcomes in Egypt and Jordan. Using panel microdata from ERF COVID-19 MENA Monitors, waves 1–5 (July ‘20–September ‘21), we estimate logit models of workers’ job loss, and multinomial logits of workers’ employment statuses. We confirm that the COVID regime stringency affects negatively employment and labor participation of most groups of workers – particularly youths, even if they were not disadvantaged pre-COVID. Higher education is associated with the retention of a better employment status, conferring consistently high returns in terms of remaining economically active, employed, and in formal employment. Workers’ preCOVID employment status affects their outcomes amid COVID, implying strong employmentstatus dependence. Those laid off amid COVID come predominantly from among those without (formal) employment pre-pandemic. Between mid-2020 and mid-2021, men’s employment prospects gradually improved, but women faced a stagnation by being largely excluded from work opportunities. Youths trailed non-youths early during the pandemic, but have caught up during recovery. In sum, evidence suggests that youths and women are affected more adversely than nonyouths and men at the height of the pandemic, face higher risks of getting laid off, and have a harder time returning to work – supporting the ‘last in’ if not the ‘first out’ hypothesis.