GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - The International Labor Organization warns that rising unemployment and inequality are preventing people from working their way out of poverty and threatening social cohesion.
For the ninth consecutive year, the International Labor Organization reports global unemployment has remained stable at about 188 million people. But the agency says unemployment is projected to increase by around 2.5 million this year.
The ILO says the employment picture is actually worse than these figures indicate when one factors in the 285 million people who do not have enough paid work or have are no longer looking for work. By doing this, the agency says the current global unemployment rate of 5.4 percent goes up to 13 percent.
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said this means more than 470 million people worldwide are either unemployed or underemployed. He said these people are unable to lift themselves out of poverty because they are working fewer paid hours than they would like or are underpaid for the work they do.
“The report shows that for millions of working people, it is becoming increasingly difficult, I think, to build better lives through work. Persisting and substantial work-related inequalities and exclusion are preventing them from finding decent work and better futures,” he said.
The report finds that significant inequalities in the workplace defined by gender, age and geographic location are growing. It said the gender gap is widening. In 2019, it notes the female labor force participation was 47 percent, which is 27 percent below the male percentage rate.
The situation for young people between the ages of 15 and 24 is even worse. The report says 262 million young people have no jobs and are receiving no skills training. Ryder said inequalities are politically unacceptable and politically unsustainable.
“I think that this is an extremely worrying finding and that it has very profound and worrying implications for social cohesion. And these implications need to be better addressed in policy making. Our view is that we will find sustainable inclusive parts of development only if we tackle these kinds of labor market gaps and inequalities,” he said.
Ryder said labor market conditions are feeding into social unrest and affecting social cohesion in parts of the world. He notes violent anti-government protests have erupted from South America to the Middle East over political and economic grievances. He said these protests show what can happen when discontent is left to fester.