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21 January 2015

Unemployment rising further; wealth becoming increasingly concentrated

Guy Ryder, ILO

According to the new ILO report World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2015 published on 20 January, unemployment will continue to rise in the coming years due to slower growth and widening inequality.

More than six years after the outbreak of global economic and financial crisis, there are no signs of recovery as regards the situation on the labour market. What is more, the report says, it is expected that by 2019 there will be 11 million more unemployed compared to the current figure of 201 million. ‘This means the jobs crisis is far from over, so there is no place for complacency’, said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

Although the employment situation has improved in the United States and Japan, it remains difficult in a number of advanced economies, particularly in Europe. ‘Income inequality in some advanced economies is now approaching levels observed among emerging economies. By contrast, the emerging economies have made some progress in reducing their high levels of inequality’, said Guy Ryder.

The report warns that these trends have undermined trust in governments and kept the risk of social unrest high particularly in countries and regions where youth unemployment has shot up and/or continues to soar. As for the causes of these developments, the reports refers to some of the structural factors that shape the world of work, including an aging population and major shifts in the skills sought by employers.

In the same vein, Oxfam international published a paper on 19 January called Wealth: Having it all and wanting more with research results showing that global wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a small wealthy elite operating in a few important sectors of the economy, including finance and insurance as well as pharmaceuticals and healthcare.

According to the figures published in the report, the richest one per cent of the world's population currently controls 48 percent of its total wealth. If this trend continues, Oxfam predicts that this most affluent segment will possess more wealth than the remaining 99 percent by 2016.

The report provides some insight into how extreme wealth is passed down the generations and how elite groups spend millions of dollars every year on lobbying to ensure that global rules remain favourable to their interests. ‘Do we really want to live in a world where the one per cent own more than the rest of us combined? The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast’, said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International and Co-chair of the World Economic Forum meeting starting today in Davos.

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