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World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2015

Employment trends across regions in 2015

News | 20 January 2015
How unemployment differs across regions?
Where will unemployment be the highest over the next five years?


In Europe, labour markets will be increasingly affected by economic and political turmoil.

Recovery remains uneven and fragile. Modest economic growth seen during the second half of 2013 and early 2014 is fading, with large euro-area countries driving the slowdown. In the second quarter of 2014, output growth reached 1.3 per cent in Germany (down from 2.2 per cent in Q1 2014) and 0.1 per cent in France (down from 1 per cent in Q1 2014). The recent turmoil in financial markets will complicate the task of bringing unemployment back to pre-crisis rates.


Following the region’s initial uptick after the crisis, the pace of growth has slowed significantly, affecting labour markets.

For 2014 (and 2015), GDP growth is forecast to fall below that of advanced economies – for the first time since 2002. Unemployment has resumed an upward trend for the region as a whole, especially in countries most dependent on exports of natural resources. The prospects for reducing the incidence of informal employment have deteriorated. Male unemployment remains significantly lower than female unemployment – at 5.3 per cent and 7.7 per cent, respectively, in 2013 – although the gap has considerably decreased since the beginning of the 2000s.


In East Asia, the slowdown in China is affecting the region’s growth prospects, exacerbating the demographic challenge.

Economic growth in China, the largest economy in the region, is estimated to have slowed to 7.4 per cent in 2014, compared with 7.7 per cent in 2013. The deceleration of growth in East Asia has led to a slow but steady rise in the unemployment rate. The jobless rate is expected to have climbed from 4.2 per cent in 2010 to 4.7 per cent in 2014. During this period, the increase in the unemployment rate has been more pronounced among youth, increasing from 9.0 per cent in 2010 to 10.5 per cent in 2014, while that of adults is estimated to have risen from 3.2 per cent in 2010 to 3.8 per cent in 2014. Vulnerable employment is forecast to be reduced in the region from 50.2 per cent in 2007 to 38.9 per cent in 2019.


In South Asia jobless growth persists – with high informal employment and working poverty.

Between 2010 and 2014, overall employment grew by 1.8 per cent per annum. During that period, women’s employment grew at a slightly faster rate, at 1.9 per cent, compared with 1.7 per cent for men. South-East Asia has been hampered by developments in Indonesia, the region’s largest economy, whose exports have remained weak since early 2013. Likewise, large exporters of natural resources may face increasing difficulty in boosting decent work opportunities.


Difficult socio-political transitions continue to weigh on employment prospects of Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

GDP growth in the region is expected to have remained tepid in 2014, at around 2.6 per cent, slightly above the 2.3 per cent registered in 2013. In 2015, GDP growth is forecast to reach 3.8 per cent. However, projected economic growth will not be sufficient to reduce high unemployment rates. Domestic consumption will continue to drive growth among oil-importing economies, which are expected to grow on average by around 3 per cent in 2014 and 4 per cent in 2015. Below-average GDP growth in 2014 is expected in Egypt and Lebanon, while Morocco and Tunisia should have grown by 3.5 per cent and 2.8 per cent, respectively.


Sub-Saharan Africa continues to record strong growth rates, despite infrastructural weaknesses and institutional challenges.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest labour force participation rate of all regions, estimated at 70.9 per cent – compared with a global average of 63.5 per cent in 2014. In addition, unemployment, at a rate just under 8 per cent in 2014, is expected to remain stable through to 2016. The youth-to-adult employment ratio is 1.9 – the lowest of all regions worldwide. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of working poverty and vulnerable employment across all regions The Ebola virus in West Africa has had a significant toll on the countries most affected -- Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The economic cost to Liberia is estimated to be equivalent to a drop of 3.4 percentage points of GDP in 2014.