Thiruvananthapuram: About 264,000 people from South Asia have lost jobs in the Middle-East on account of the global meltdown, city-based think tank Centre for Development Studies (CDS) has found.
Presenting the study here Monday, S. Irudayarajan and D. Narayana of CDS said the financial crisis that originated in the US impacted the Gulf Cooperation Council countries soon after.
"The impact of the global crisis on the Gulf Cooperation Council ( GCC) economies has been analysed in terms of sectors affected and changes in GDP growth and employment of expatriate labourers," said Irudayarajan.
Study teams visited the six GCC countries and Malaysia to interview labourers as well as employers in various sectors.
It found that the global crisis affected the GCC economies by impacting oil prices, depressing property and equity prices, lowering investor confidence, and reversing of capital flows.
The study was funded by the Asian Development Bank, the overseas Indian affairs ministry, the central government and the state government`s Department of Non-Resident Keralite Affairs.
It found out that the construction boom in GCC countries has come to a halt with 20-30 percent of bookings getting cancelled, the bulk of it in Dubai.
The phenomenal growth in employment over the past five or six years has come to a halt and about 40 percent of workers affected.
Expatriates did not leave in large numbers, the study noted, but added that there were salary cuts, freezing of increments, and scrapping of benefits and perks.
"We found that about 61,000 emigrants from Kerala have returned," said Irudayarajan. "Applying the methodology of the Kerala resurvey to South Asia as a whole, the return emigrants from the Gulf are estimated to be a maximum of 264,000."
Ironically, the study said, despite the crisis and job loss, demand for expatriates continues in the Gulf as is evident from the outflow of migrant workers from South Asia.
Except for a 35 percent fall in numbers from India, the flows in 2009 are comparable to those in 2008. But the direction of flow has changed, with UAE attracting less number of labourers whereas there is hardly any change for Saudi Arabia.