A new International Labor Organization report raises concerns about the ability of the global economy to generate sufficient jobs, improve the quality of employment and ensure that the gains of growth are shared.
“World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2017,” finds that disappointing economic growth predicts high unemployment and decent work deficits, including an increase in precarious work. It projects global unemployment to increase by 3.4 million workers in 2017, bringing total global unemployment to more than 201 million people.
In addition, the report’s authors warn that vulnerable employment and working poverty will remain pervasive, and that limited job opportunities and rising social discontent will continue to fuel growing rates of migration. Nearly half of workers in Southern Asia and nearly two-thirds of workers in sub-Saharan Africa were living in extreme or moderate working poverty in 2016.
In other findings:
- Deterioration of labor market conditions will be most severe in emerging countries, while chronic, poor-quality, employment will remain center stage in developing countries.
- The number of workers in vulnerable forms of employment will remain above 42 percent of total employment this year, or 1.4 billion worldwide—including almost four in five workers in developing countries. The two regions most affected will be Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
- Reductions in working poverty are slowing, endangering the prospects for eradicating poverty as set out in the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Gender disparities in labor market opportunities will persist, with vulnerable forms of employment continuing to be consistently higher for women across Africa, Asia and the Pacific and the Arab States. Meanwhile, the gender gap in hourly wages—which reaches as high as 40 per cent in some developing countries—will persist despite improvements in equal pay legislation.
Recommendations in the report include that measures addressing the causes of stagnation and structural impediments to growth be placed at the forefront of policy agendas, and that policy be focused on how to overcome structural impediments to growth—including inequality.
As the report finds: “The rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are … key to the realization of both democracy and dignity, since they enable people to voice and represent their interests, to hold governments accountable and to empower human agency.”