Two years of economic slowdown has pushed the number of unemployed to new heights worldwide, with little prospect of any improvement in the global employment situation this year, according to a new report entitled Global Employment Trends, issued by the International Labour Office (ILO).
"The world employment situation is deteriorating dramatically," said Juan Somavia, ILO director general. "While tens of millions of people join the ranks of the unemployed or the working poor, uncertain prospects for a global economic recovery make a reversal of this trend unlikely in 2003."
In the new study, the ILO estimates that the number of unemployed worldwide grew by 20 million since the year 2000 to reach a total of 180 million at the end of last year. In addition, the report says the weakness of labour markets has reversed recent reductions in "working poverty" achieved in the late 1990s.
Particularly hard hit have been women and youth, who often have jobs that are particularly vulnerable to economic shocks, the report says. What's more, unemployed workers pushed into informal jobs in search of work faced even more uncertainty due to the sector's near total lack of unemployment or social security coverage.
At the end of 2002, the number of working poor, or workers living on one dollar or less a day, resumed its upward trend, returning to the level of 550 million recorded in 1998. While the global economic slowdown and post September 11 developments increased unemployment worldwide, Latin America and the Caribbean were hit hardest, with recorded joblessness rising to nearly 10 percent.
To absorb new entrants into the labor market and reduce working poverty and unemployment, at least one billion new jobs are needed during the coming decade to get on track for the UN goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015.
In the Middle East, joblessness spiraled in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while the recession in Israel continued. The Middle East and North Africa experienced a dramatic decline in overall economic conditions over the past two years with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth falling from more than six percent in 2000 to 1.5 percent in 2001.
Dismissals and redundancies resulting from reductions in the size of the public sector pushed up unemployment, which reached double-digit levels in some countries. Youth unemployment was distressingly high in some countries, including Syria, Algeria, Bahrain and Morocco.
Moreover, the Gulf countries are increasingly adopting policies to replace migrant workers with their own nationals, a move that could have significant consequences for employment as well as remittances to countries supplying labor. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )