World employment falls in 2017

Benoit Dupont
01 February 2017
A recent report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on employment in 2017 reveals that the global unemployment rate will rise modestly from 5.7% to 5.8%. This equates to an additional 3.4 million unemployed people. Vulnerable employment will fall by 0.1% and the percentage of working poor will reduce by 0.7%.

The ILO, an agency of the UN, is made up of representatives from governments, employers and workers from 187 Member States. The ILO lays down international labour standards, develops policy lines, and sets up programmes to foster decent work for men and women throughout the world. In 2016, the Belgian Development Cooperation made a contribution of €7.5 million. A similar amount is planned for 2017.

unemployment world


At the global level, just over 210 million people will be unemployed in 2017, with an additional rise of 2.7 million expected in 2018. According to the ILO, this is due to the fact that the pace of labour force growth outstrips job creation.

'We are facing the twin challenge of repairing the damage caused by the global economic and social crisis and creating quality jobs for the tens of millions of new labour market entrants every year', said Guy Ryder, Director-General of the ILO.

The report shows that vulnerable forms of employment are expected to make up more than 42% of total employment in 2017. This will account for 1.4 billion employed people worldwide. 'Almost one in two workers in emerging countries are in vulnerable forms of employment, rising to more than four in five workers in developing countries', explains Steven Tobin, Senior Economist at the ILO and lead author of the report.

As such, the number of people in vulnerable employment will increase by 11 million every year. South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are the most affected.

Family workers world map


Decent work deficits underpin social discontent and the willingness to migrate

Another key trend highlighted in the report is that the reductions in working poverty are slowing which endangers the prospects of eradicating poverty as set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). The number of workers earning less than $3.10 per day is even expected by the ILO to increase by more than 5 million over the next two years in developing countries.

Working poor world map


The report also warns that global uncertainty and the lack of decent work are, among other factors, underpinning social unrest and migration in many parts of the world.

Between 2009 and 2016, the share of the working age population willing to migrate abroad increased in almost every region of the world, except for Southern Asia, South-Eastern Asia and the Pacific. The largest rise took place in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Arab states.


Call for international cooperation

Turning to policy recommendations, the authors estimate that a coordinated effort to provide fiscal stimulus and an increase in public investment would provide an immediate jump-start to the global economy. This could reduce global unemployment in 2018 by close to 2 million compared to the baseline forecast. These efforts need to take the fiscal space of each country into account, and be part of an international cooperation.

Source: ILO

ILO Unemployment
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