Unemployment will remain high in 2018

Vincenza Ferrigno
09 February 2018
According to the latest International Labour Organization (ILO) report, the number of unemployed and the work shortage are expected to remain unchanged in 2018, despite a global economy that seems to be in better shape.

The report World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2018 indicates that the global economic growth increased in 2017, rising from 3.2% in 2016 (the lowest level in six years) to 3.7% in 2017 (growth higher than expected). However, this result remains low and suggests that future growth is likely to stay below 4%.

The estimate of global unemployment is also rather mixed. While unemployment is expected to fall slightly to 5.5% in 2018 (from 5.6% in 2017), the growing number of people entering the labour market will offset the effect. Result: the total number of unemployed is expected to remain stable and above 192 million. According to ILO estimates, this unemployment rate will remain essentially unchanged in 2019, whereas the number of unemployed is projected to grow to 193.3 million.

Even if global unemployment has stabilized, decent work deficits are still widespread: the global economy still does not create enough jobs.

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General

As regards working people, the number of workers in vulnerable forms of employment (own-account workers and contributing family workers) is likely to increase in the years to come. Currently, 1.4 billion people worldwide (around 42% of workers) are estimated to be in vulnerable forms of employment. The percentage of workers in vulnerable forms of employment in developing countries amounts to 76%, compared to 46% in emerging countries. According to the ILO's the number of people in vulnerable employment will increase by 17 million per year in 2018 and 2019.

Moreover, progress in reducing working poverty is too slow to keep pace with the growing labour force in developing countries, where the number of people in extreme working poverty is expected to exceed 114 million in 2018 (40% of all employed people). Emerging countries, on the other hand, achieved significant progress in reducing extreme working poverty. That will enable 10 million workers in 2018 and 10 million more in 2019 to emerge from extreme working poverty.

However, for Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, there is no doubt: "Additional efforts are needed to improve the quality of employment for the people who work and ensure that the gains from growth are equitably distributed.”

For this reason, the report also considers inequalities in labour market. Gender disparities are of particular concern for ILO. According to the organization, women are less likely to participate in the labour market, but also less likely to find a job when they do participate. This is why a very large proportion of women (80%) in developing countries are in vulnerable forms of employment. Young people are another category of disadvantaged workers. Youth unemployment is three times higher than the adults unemployment rate, resulting in 13% of the world youth unemployment rate compared to 4.3% of the global adult unemployment rate.

An ageing population will add further pressure on the labour market. The rapidly expanding pool of retirees is a new constraint on both the labour market and the pension system. ILO estimates that, by 2030, there will be close to five persons aged 65 and over for every ten persons in the labour force, up from 3.5 in 2017. And that is not all. The average age of the labour force is expected to rise to 41 in 2030, which means that it is imperative to help older workers adapt to changes in the world of work, fostering their employability and keeping them out of poverty.



Infographic ILO


Infographic ILO


Unemployment Decent work Inequality
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