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A foot view of labour how unload coal from a cargo ship in Gabtoli on the outskirts of Dhaka on January 9,. After unloading 30 baskets of coal they earn around $1 USD. Photo: NurPhoto / Getty Images

The number of children in child labor has risen to 160 million globally, an uptick of 8.4 million over the past four years, according to a report released Wednesday by the International Labour Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Why it matters: The report cautions that "global progress to end child labour has stalled for the first time in 20 years, reversing the previous downward trend that saw child labour fall by 94 million between 2000 and 2016."

By the numbers: 63 million girls and 97 million boys were in child labour at the start of 2020, accounting for roughly 1 in 10 children worldwide. Boys were more likely to work than girls across all age groups, per the report.

  • "The number of children aged 5 to 17 years in hazardous work – defined as work that is likely to harm their health, safety or morals – has risen by 6.5 million to 79 million since 2016."
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, insufficient social protections, population increases and poverty have resulted in an additional 16.6 million children in child labour over the last four years. 
  • Economic slowdowns and school closures spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns led many already-working children to work longer hours or endure deteriorating conditions, the report noted.
  • "Child labour is frequently associated with children being out of school. A large share of younger children in child labour are excluded from school despite falling within the age range for compulsory education. More than a quarter of children aged 5 to 11 and over a third of children aged 12 to 14 who are in child labour are out of school," per the report.

Details: Key findings from the 2020 global estimates indicate...

  • Child labor is more common in rural (13.9%) than urban areas (4.7%).
  • Most (70%) of child labor takes place within the agriculture sector.
  • 72% of all child labor happens in families, largely on farms or in small businesses.

What they're saying: “Many children feel they have no choice but to work to help their families survive, but a rise in child labor is not an inevitable consequence of the pandemic,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director at HRW.

What to watch: Another 9 million children could be forced to work by the end of 2022 due to the pandemic, the report warns.

Go deeper

Padilla, Paul introduce bipartisan bill to protect 200,000 "Documented Dreamers"

Sens. Rand Paul (left) and Alex Padilla. Photos: Greg Nash-Pool (left) and Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Sens. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday introduced a bill that seeks to provide a pathway to citizenship for the country's 200,000 "Documented Dreamers."

Why it matters: Documented Dreamers are children of long-term visa holders who often wait years for a green card and face deportation if they don't receive legal immigration status after turning 21, when they lose dependent status.

Updated 59 seconds ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan tributes flood in for "giant of the Senate" Bob Dole

Then-Vice President Joe Biden and former Sen. Bob Dole at an event put on by the World Food Program where he was awarded the first “McGovern-Dole Leadership Award” in December 2013. Photo: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

Republican and Democratic politicians, including former Senate colleagues, are sharing condolences and memories commemorating the life of Bob Dole, who passed away at 98 on Sunday morning.

The big picture: Dole, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, was the longest serving Republican leader in the Senate until 2018, when current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell surpassed his record.

Former Sen. Bob Dole dies

Former Sen. Bob Dole in 2019. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

Former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole passed away Sunday morning at the age of 98, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced in a statement.

Driving the news: Dole, a revered figure in U.S. politics and the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, served in the Senate for 27 years, including 11 years as GOP leader. Earlier this year he revealed he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.