Grim outlook for jobs in short term

A mural in Lisbon calls for protests against austerity measures in Portugal. (Rafael Marchante, Reuters)

A mural in Lisbon calls for protests against austerity measures in Portugal. (Rafael Marchante, Reuters)

The world's advanced economies will suffer a lost decade of jobs growth with more people unemployed for longer and more dropping out of the labour market altogether, a key report has warned.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) says the risk of social unrest is rising as inequality worsens and unemployment continues to climb, and it will be "a major global challenge for the years to come".

The ILO predicts that employment rates in advanced economies will not return to pre-crisis levels until after 2017, but forecasts that emerging and developing economies will recover sooner, returning to pre-crisis employment levels by 2015.

The annual World of Work report warns that, at a global level, the number of unemployed people will continue to increase unless policies change. Global unemployment is expected to approach 208-million in 2015, compared with slightly over 200-million now.

The report also stresses that key labour market weaknesses that preceded the crisis have "remained acute or worsened". For example, over the past five years, long-term unemployment has increased in almost two-thirds of advanced and developing countries.

"In advanced economies, unemployment spells have lengthened and more workers are becoming discouraged and dropping out of the labour market altogether.
This not only has adverse consequences on individuals and their families, but also can weaken previously stable societies, as opportunities to advance in a good job and improve one's standard of living become the exception rather than the rule," the ILO says.

Millions of jobs needed
A combination of jobs destroyed as economic growth faltered and a growing working-age population mean that more than 30-million jobs are needed to return employment to the pre-crisis level of 56.6%.

The report's author, Raymond Torres, says countries need to come up with well-designed employment and social policies to consolidate the gains where a labour market recovery is under way and to kick-start job creation in crisis-hit countries.

Torres sees serious long-term challenges in most countries, noting that a recovery in corporate profitability and stock markets in most countries does not appear to be resulting in strong jobs growth. Instead, unspent cash in the accounts of large enterprises has reached $5-trillion in advanced economies, exceeding pre-crisis levels, and executive pay is also increasing.

"Economic and social inequalities are on the rise and this may affect long-term recovery prospects," says Torres.

"Almost everywhere, young people and women find it difficult to obtain jobs that match their skills and aspirations. It is crucial to ensure that the spectacular advancements in educational attainment among youth in recent years are matched by commensurate decent work opportunities. The risk of social unrest is on the rise in most regions. This is a major global challenge for the years to come." — © Guardian News & Media 2013

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