ILO report sees “volatile and uneven recovery” across economic sectors in 2010

GENEVA (ILO News)– The ILO’s Sectoral Activities Department has released new data showing that employment is recovering unevenly across sectors in the first half of 2010 and will continue to do so over the remainder of the year.

Press release | BANGKOK | 10 November 2010

GENEVA (ILO News) –The ILO’s Sectoral Activities Department has released new data showing that employment is recovering unevenly across sectors in the first half of 2010 and will continue to do so over the remainder of the year.

The new ILO paper based on data from 13 sectors in 51 developed and developing countries says that while construction and manufacturing have lost a total of more than 5 millions jobs in the first quarter of 2010 (compared to 2009), the health sector has added almost 2.8 million jobs during the same period though compared to 2008.

“In 2010 the global economy seems to have entered into a new stage where divergence and volatility, in a number of labour markets, have significantly increased and uncertainty over the stability of the recovery remains high,” said Elizabeth Tinoco, Director of the ILO’s Sectoral Activities Department. “These trends are also observed across sectors and vary from country to country. We see this not only in developed countries, but also in strong emerging economies like China, South Africa and Brazil”.

In addition, to a net loss of jobs in construction and manufacturing, the ILO paper says the recovery is progressing slowly in wholesale and retail trade (-0.8 per cent, year-on-year), as well as in transportation, storage and communications (-0.6 per cent), which remain highly dependent on the volatility observed both in domestic and export markets.

Volatility also persists in the financial intermediation sector. Globally, employment levels in the first quarter of 2010 were 1.4 per cent below the same period in 2009 and were slightly improved in the second quarter of 2010. This would confirm that the industry is still undergoing some restructuring, particularly in the US and UK, the overview suggests.

However, not all sectors are losing jobs. Despite cuts in fiscal spending announced by many countries, employment levels in education, health and public administration continued to grow in the first half of 2010, albeit at a slower pace.

The health sector has by far been the most active in adding jobs during the slowdown. Education gained almost 138,000 jobs in the second quarter of 2010 (year-on-year), whereas in the previous quarter it had added nearly 240,000 jobs. Employment in public administration grew slower in the second quarter of 2010 than in the first one, but still added 134,830 jobs year-on-year.

Employment levels have also risen in the hotel and restaurant services (1.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2010 compared 2009), and in real estate, renting and business services (1.1 per cent).

As for agriculture, it has remained resilient across regions in the first semester of 2010 compared to 2009, with some volatility observed globally in the first quarter of 2010 (-1.1 per cent, year-on-year).

The ILO paper also analyzes the changes in labour markets in terms of hours of work. It says that after falling consecutively throughout 2009, hours of work began to increase again in the first and second quarters of 2010 in almost all sectors with the exception of agriculture, forestry and fishing.

Looking at the second half of 2010, the paper says labour market outlook remains uncertain across all sectors.

“One of the uncertainties we face is what will happen to private consumption in developed countries: will it remain weak or will it pick up? The same goes for fiscal consolidation plans: what impact will they have in the short run on the economy? The shape and scope of the recovery will depend on how these trends evolve”, said Ms Tinoco.

For further information about various sectors in Asia and the Pacific region, please contact:

Allan Dow
Communications and Advocacy Officer
ILO Regional Office for Asia and Pacific (in Bangkok)
Tel. +66 2 288 2057, Email

For further information about the global trends, please contact:

The ILO’s Department of Communication and Public Information in Geneva
Tel. +41 22 799 7912, Email