Coronavirus will worsen inequality for years to come, IMF warns 

Pandemics of the past hit the poor’s job prospects and earnings hardest

The coronavirus pandemic will hit the world's poor hardest for years to come, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned.

Workers with less education and training are much more likely to lose their jobs as a result of the outbreak and the recession it has caused than those with higher levels of skills, according to a study of five recent epidemics.

The economic aftermath of the 21st century’s SARS, swine flu, MERS, ebola and zika outbreaks all worsened  inequality in the countries worst affected, as unemployment rose and money sent home from family overseas fell.

In affected countries, the unemployment for people with little education typically rose 5pc after five years.

IMF researchers said: “Pandemics have had vastly disparate impacts on the employment of people with different levels of educational attainment, one indicator of skill levels.

“The disparity is stark: relative to population, the employment of those with advanced levels of education is scarcely affected, whereas the employment of those with only basic levels of education falls sharply.”

That effect appears to worsen over time, showing this is not merely a temporary problem that is quickly overcome.

The analysts propose a more generous welfare system plus schemes aimed at helping those without job opportunities to get back into work.

It came as the Office for National Statistics revealed the death rates among workers in Britain have been highest in low-skilled elementary occupations, and among caring, leisure and other service workers.

By contrast those in professional occupations are least likely to die with coronavirus, closely followed by technical occupations and managers, directors and senior officials.

More vulnerable workers are typically employed in industries where working from home is not possible, underlining the long-term financial impact should they take time off during the pandemic.