Will Lower Global Unemployment Lead to Fewer Unemployed?

No, says the International Labour Organization—gender disparity and youth unemployment will continue to be a challenge for job markets in emerging economies.

As the global economy grows, so will the number of unemployed persons, according to “World Employment Social Outlook: Trends 2018” (WESO 2018), a report released earlier this year by the International Labour Organization. By 2018, the unemployment rate in both developed and emerging nations is expected to fall to 5.5 percent, but the global number of unemployed is likely to grow by 1.3 million in 2019 as more people enter the job market.

The report cites three areas of concern: gender disparity, youth unemployment, and aging populations. Women still are underrepresented in the job market, and unemployment among young adults under 25 years old stands at 13 percent (compared to 4.3 percent for older adults). In Northern Africa, nearly 30 percent of young people are jobless.

Aging populations will continue to be a challenge for developed countries like Europe and Eastern Asia. The report notes that “by 2030, there will be close to five persons aged 64 and over for every ten persons in the labour force, up from 3.5 in 2017,” a discrepancy that could hinder innovation.

The report’s authors write that “fostering the employability of workers through life-long learning is key to expanding their employment opportunities.” As one way to support innovation in the global economy for the long term, they cite a need to encourage older adults to update their skills “to help lower the risk of labour market detachment and early retirement.”

WESO 2018 was prepared by the Labour Market Trends and Policy Evaluation Unit of the ILO Research Department. In May, the ILO released “WESO 2018: Greening with Jobs,” which examines the green economy as a source of job creation. Find both reports at www.ilo.org under “Publications.”