Global Employment Trends: World faces a 600 million jobs challenge, warns U.N. Agency

The International Labor Organization (ILO) reports “urgent” global challenge of creating 600 million jobs over the next decade to sustain world population and maintain social cohesion.


Image credit: Michal Zacharzewski

In a report released by the International Labor Organization (ILO), a UN agency tasked with global work issues, it is estimated that the world is facing an “urgent challenge” of creating 600 million jobs over the next ten years.

“After three years of continuous crisis conditions in global labor markets and against the prospect of a further deterioration of economic activity, there is a backlog of global unemployment of 200 million,” says the ILO in its annual report titled “Global Employment Trends 2012: Preventing a deeper jobs crisis”.

Furthermore, the ILO report states that more than 400 million new jobs must be added over the next decade to absorb the estimated 40 million growth of the labor force each year.

The ILO’s Global Employment Trends Report also addresses the need to create decent jobs for the estimated 900 million workers living with their families below the US$ 2 a day poverty line, mostly in developing countries.

“Despite strenuous government efforts, the jobs crisis continues unabated, with one in three workers worldwide – or an estimated 1.1 billion people – either unemployed or living in poverty”, said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. “What is needed is that job creation in the real economy must become our number one priority”.

The report says the economic recovery that began in 2009 has been short-lived and that there are still 27 million more unemployed workers than at the start of the global economic crisis.

Additionally, there are approximately 29 million fewer people in the labor force now than would be expected based on pre-crisis trends. If these discouraged workers were properly identified as unemployed, then global unemployment would swell from the current 197 million to 225 million, and the unemployment rate would rise from 6% to 6.9%.

Young people continue to be among the hardest hit by the jobs crisis. Judging by the present course, the report says, there is little hope for a substantial improvement in their near-term employment prospects.

Global Employment Trends 2012 says 74.8 million youth aged 15-24 were unemployed in 2011, an increase of more than 4 million since 2007. Globally, young people are nearly three times as likely as adults to be unemployed. The global youth unemployment rate, at 12.7 per cent, remains a full percentage point above the pre-crisis level.

The report calls for policymakers to identify and approve measures that support job growth in the real economy, but warns that additional public support measures alone will not be enough to foster a sustainable recovery.

“Policymakers must act decisively and in a coordinated fashion to reduce the fear and uncertainty that is hindering private investment so that the private sector can restart the main engine of global job creation”, says the report.

It also warns that in times of faltering demand further stimulus is important and this can be done in a way that does not put the sustainability of public finances at risk. The report calls for fiscal consolidation efforts to be carried out in a socially responsible manner, with growth and employment prospects as guiding principles.

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