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Pandemic exacerbated inequality worldwide, Amnesty International says

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Signs reading "End Poverty" and "End Inequality" are held up during a 2015 demonstration in New York City.

New data from Robin Hood and Columbia University paint a picture of poverty in New York City amid multiple crises. Brad Barket/Getty Images for Action/2015

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Low-wage workers, the self-employed and others with jobs in the informal economy around the world have lost the most economic ground in the pandemic, according to Amnesty International’s latest annual report on “The State of the World’s Human Rights.” 

It’s the same story in much of the world: The people who make the least have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. And, “in many countries, those working in the gig economy, those working as cleaners, seasonal workers, were completely left out of any relief package introduced by governments,” said Netsanet Belay at Amnesty International.

And, Belay said, that has exacerbated income inequality around the world. 

In the U.S., low-wage workers have also lost the most in the pandemic, according to Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution. But, “there has been a robust policy response to try to extend a safety net to workers with the least. Typically, our safety net does not catch these gig workers, but in this pandemic recession, there was a very careful effort to include them,” Kinder said.

Still, the pandemic has exacerbated extreme inequities in the U.S that, Kinder said, will require more permanent solutions.

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