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ILO: Rapid Labor Force Growth in Developing World Fuels Migration


The International Labor Organization says the rapidly growing workforce in the developing world poses a global challenge, as more and more people migrate from rural to urban areas, and across borders in search of work. An ILO report says hundreds-of-millions of jobs will have to be created over the coming decade to stem high unemployment rates, particularly among young people.

The director-general of the International Labor Organization, Juan Somavia, says developing countries have the fastest growing workforce in the world, and the pressure of unemployment and poverty are contributing to urban and international migration.

"Some 80 percent of the world's workforce live in developing countries. Four-hundred-30-million jobs will need to be created by 2015, simply to keep up with the growth of the labor force, which will take place in that part of the world. That job creation challenge comes on top of the pressure of a continuing large-scale shift out of agriculture and rural areas toward cities, pushed by poverty and pulled by the hope of a better job. This is also the origin of international migration," said Somavia.

An author of the report, Stephen Pursey, says the steady move away from agricultural work in rural areas toward cities will have a profound impact on the emerging global labor market.

"Currently, the world's work force is about 40 percent in agriculture. On current trends, that will be down to about 33 percent in 2015. So, seven percent of the world's work force are going to be moving in the next 10 years between agriculture, rural areas, cities and something else. The something else generally is the informal economy in most of the populous poorer developing countries," added Pursey. "And, most of the informal economy is petty trading on the streets. This is not exactly decent work."

The ILO report says unemployment among young people is nearly 14 percent, and half of the world's adult workforce is not able to lift itself above the two dollar a day poverty line.

The ILO says unemployment is compounded by lack of skills. It suggests one way to address both problems is to train workers in new technologies to make full use of their potential.