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27 January 2016

ILO report sees growing global unemployment and decreasing job quality

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A report from the International Labour Organisation released on 19 January 2016 forecasts that worldwide unemployment will increase to 200 million over the next couple of years. Despite a slight decrease in the unemployment rate in advanced economies (USA, northern and central EU countries), the quality of the jobs created is major cause for concern.

The World Employment and Social Outlook - Trends 2016 shows that the number of people in precarious employment is increasing so that in the coming years 46% of the world’s workforce will be in precarious jobs, most of them self-employed and working mainly in the informal economy with limited access to social protection.

In Europe, a slight decrease in unemployment rates from 9.4 to 9.1 per cent by 2017 is likely to come at the expense of job quality. Part-time and temporary jobs account for a substantial share of new jobs. ‘The share of full-time work arrangements, which represented over 80 per cent of total employment in 2007, fell by over 3 percentage points by 2015. Conversely, in recent years, part-time employment has been accounting for a disproportionate share of employment creation, increasing its share in total employment to over 22 per cent in 2015.’

This is a situation that exacerbates inequality and the risk for workers of joining the ranks of the ‘working poor’. Already in Europe ‘almost 10 per cent of all employed people earn less than 60 per cent of the median income.’

A forthcoming ETUI publication on unemployment, internal devaluation and labour market deregulation in Europe investigates why unemployment has risen more in some countries than others and the extent to which internal devaluation policies (aimed at curing unemployment by reducing wage costs) had an impact on the unemployment rates of the countries that were forced to adopt these policies (Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland). The book Unemployment, internal devaluation and labour market deregulation in Europe will be launched on 18 February.

Please register for the launch event here.

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