The International Labor Organization's annual report says the number of unemployed worldwide decreased from 6.3 percent to 6.1 percent. That is the first decline in the number of unemployed since 2000 and only the second since 1994.
The International Labor Organization says last year's robust global economic growth rate of five percent played a large role in bringing down unemployment. But the agency said there was not a comparable increase in the number of jobs, calling the slight increase of 1.7 percent in job growth "disappointing."
"And in many regions where GDP [gross domestic product] growth has been strong, unemployment remained virtually unchanged," said ILO Economist Marva Corley. "Robust global GDP growth has not translated into strong employment creation."
The report shows the strongest decline in unemployment was in the Latin American and Caribbean region, where it dropped from 9.3 percent in 2003 to 8.6 percent in 2004. But, it says the improvement in the employment picture was more modest elsewhere.
It says the employment situation in the developed economies of Europe and North America has remained static, and that slight improvements in employment are mainly due to a drop in labor-force participation. It explains many people who cannot find work get frustrated and drop out of the labor market.
Ms. Corley says unemployment in Sub-Saharan Africa edged up slightly last year, despite a gross domestic product growth rate of nearly 4.5 percent.
"And one of the reasons is mainly that growth has been the result of the increase of commodity prices and the increase in oil prices," she said. "And, these are very capital-intensive sectors, and, therefore, it has not had much of an impact on employment growth. In terms of the informal economy, it exists. The informal economy exists, because the formal economy is not able to absorb the large supply of workers, particularly in the urban areas. It has been very dynamic in terms of job creation, particularly in Latin America, also in Sub-Saharan Africa."
The International Labor Organization says it expects job and economic growth to slow this year.