Wrung by pandemic, migrant labourers yet to find their feet

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Remittances by migrant labourers to their families back home are still much lower than the pre-Covid level, an indication that this key constituent of the informal labour force is yet to recover from the Covid blow.

According to banks and payments companies, domestic remittances by migrant labourers is still at about 70 per cent of the pre-lockdown level and the ticket size of the money they send home has also shrunk.

“On a month-on-month basis, domestic remittances are largely back to 80-85 per cent of pre-Covid level. The initial climb back was pretty steep. But my sense is that now onwards, it will be a bit of a slow journey and the last 20 per cent can take anywhere between two and three months to cover. It may be February-end before we get back to pre-Covid level,” said Ashish Ahuja, Chief Operating Officer, Fino Payments Bank.

Slowing income

While most workers have returned to their jobs before the pandemic, their income level may have gone down going by the slight drop in the ticket size of remittance.

While the pre-lockdown ticket size of the remittance was about ₹3,000 per transaction, it has now gone down to about ₹2,400-2,500, Ahuja said.

Abhinav Sinha, Co-founder, Eko Financial Services, also said that at an industry level, domestic remittances are at about 65-70 per cent of pre-lockdown level.

He pegged the domestic remittance market at about ₹10,000 crore per month before the pandemic and the lockdown.

“Typically, migrants sent back anywhere between ₹3,300 and ₹3,500 per transaction before the pandemic,” he said, adding that about 30-40 per cent of customers would send this amount twice back home every month, especially from bigger cities such as Delhi and Mumbai.

Bankers point out that sectors such as hospitality, retail and real estate are yet to become fully operational and even those self-employed as cab and auto drivers are impacted as a large number of people still work from home. These factors have impacted the income of migrant workers.



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