8 November 2010: Echoing the call of the ITUC and the Global Unions for G20 leaders to place job creation at the centre of the response to the economic crisis, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has launched a new statistical update on employment and labour market trends in the run-up to the G20 Summit in Seoul, Korea, 11-12 November 2010.
The ILO is urging the G20 leaders to intensify its focus on “productive employment and job-intensive growth policies”. The update points out that unemployment increased in 10 countries of the G20 in 2010 compared to 2009, but declined in eight. It also says that most emerging economies have seen a rise in employment and a decrease in unemployment in 2010. The ILO analysis states that unemployment hovers at an all-time high of 210 million, some 30 million more than on the eve of the crisis in 2007, while real wages have sunk an average of 4 percent below pre-crisis levels.
Today, rising income inequality and low or no wage growth for a large majority of salaried workers, ultimately translates into deficient aggregate demand and current account imbalances. The ILO says that G20 countries will need to create around 21 million jobs each year over the next decade just to keep pace with the increase in the working age population.
“Unemployment is not the only issue,” said Mr Rafael Diez de Medina, Director of the ILO Department of Statistics, noting that the ILO had found declining hours of work and labour force participation rates in high income economies and a significant increase in the number of discouraged workers. “This is quite worrying,” he added, “since they are not part of the unemployment figures and have a clear impact on social cohesion. Time-related underemployment has stabilised in 2010, but remains high in several countries of the G20.”
Other major findings of the ILO’s statistical update include:
- For the 18 countries with data in the first half of 2010, 70 million persons were registered as unemployed (15.5 million in Europe, 22 million in other high income economies and 32.5 million in emerging economies).
- Unemployment rates across G20 countries ranged between 25 and 5 per cent with a median of 7.8 per cent. In mid-2010, unemployment is 70 per cent above its pre-crisis level in high income countries (excluding Europe) and 30 per cent higher in Europe.
- Across all countries, unemployment for men has risen more than for women.
- Youth unemployment is on average twice the rate of total unemployment, at 19 per cent across G20 countries.
- The crisis has accelerated structural change in all economies, with a significant decline in manufacturing employment in all G20 economies (between 1.5 and 3 percentage points as a share of total employment). Construction employment declined across most countries.
- Reduction in male labour force participation is observed in all regions, whereas female labour participation has increased in Europe and emerging economies.
The ILO paper argues for an income-led approach based on productive employment and job-intensive growth policies that would include higher investments and access to credit, greater attention to small enterprises, gradual expansion of basic social protection in all countries, real wages rising in line with productivity increases and better protection of low-wage earners through minimum wages. The report also says these policies would go a long way towards reducing global imbalances across all countries.
To download a copy of the ILO report in English, French and Spanish, click here