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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

Exclusive: Quartz, NYT vets launch new media company about work

Photo credit: Emma Howells for Charter

Quartz co-founders Kevin Delaney and Jay Lauf, along with New York Times veteran Erin Grau, are launching a new media and services company called "Charter" that is centered around the future of work, the founders told Axios.

Why it matters: "There are other media companies that write about this topic — some occasionally and some more frequently, but it's one topic among many things that they do," Delaney said. "This is a driving focus for us."

Biden endorses bill to end sentencing disparity for crack and powder cocaine

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Biden administration endorsed a bill Tuesday that would end sentencing disparities for crack versus powder cocaine offenses.

The big picture: Supporting the legislation follows through on one of Biden's campaign promises. But it's a shift from decades ago, when Biden spearheaded efforts to pass the legislation that implemented the disparities in the first place.

White House to acknowledge U.S. will miss July 4 vaccination goal

Fireworks in New York City to celebrate the state reaching a 70% vaccination rate. Photo: Liao Pan/China News Service via Getty Images

The Biden administration plans to acknowledge on Tuesday it will likely miss its goal of vaccinating 70% of U.S. adults with at least one dose by July 4, NBC News first reported and Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: Despite falling short of the goal, the White House still believes most Americans will be safe to fully celebrate Independence Day, as COVID-19 cases and deaths remain at low levels throughout much of the country.