Global Employment Trends 2014

Weak economic recovery does not extend to jobs

Global labour markets still stalled despite slow economic recovery, according to the ILO’s Global Employment Trends 2014 report, which calls for an urgent switch to more employment-friendly policies.

Press release | 21 January 2014
What's the global picture of the job market?
GENEVA – The weak global economic recovery has failed to lead to an improvement in global labour markets, with global unemployment in 2013 reaching almost 202 million, the ILO said in a new report.

The Global Employment Trends 2014 report said employment growth remains weak, unemployment continues to rise, especially among young people, and large numbers of discouraged potential workers are still outside the labour market.

Profits are being made in many sectors, but those are mainly going into asset markets and not the real economy, damaging long-term employment prospects.

On current trends, an additional 200 million jobs will be created by 2018. This is less than what is required to absorb the growing number of new entrants in to the labour market.

“What is urgently needed is a policy re-think. Stronger efforts are needed to accelerate employment creation and to support enterprises that create jobs,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

Youth unemployment remains a major concern

The report stressed the pressing need to integrate young people into the labour force. At present, some 74.5 million men and women under the age of 25 are unemployed, a global youth unemployment rate of over 13 per cent – over two times more than the overall global unemployment rate.

Key facts and figures
  • The number of unemployed worldwide rose by 5 million in 2013 to almost 202 million, a 6 per cent unemployment rate.
  • Some 23 million workers have dropped out of the labour market.
  • The number of jobseekers is expected to rise by more than 13 million by 2018.
  • Some 74.5 million people in the 15 to 24 age group were unemployed in 2013, a 13.1 per cent youth unemployment rate.
  • Around 839 million workers lived with their families on less than US$2 in 2013.
  • Some 375 million workers lived with their families on less than $1.25 a day in 2013.
In developing countries, informal employment remains widespread, and the pace of improvements in job quality is slowing down. That means fewer people are moving out of working poverty. In 2013, the number of workers in extreme poverty – living on less than
$ 1.25 a day – declined by only 2.7 per cent globally, one of the lowest rates over the past decade, with the exception of the immediate crisis years.

Global recovery in labour markets is being held back by a deficit of aggregate demand. In many developed economies, harsh reductions in public spending and hikes in income and consumption taxes weigh heavily on private businesses and households.

Which policies can help boost employment and productivity?
In addition, a lack of policy coordination between monetary and fiscal policies has substantially increased labour market uncertainty, with employers often reluctant to hire or make long-term investments.

Unemployment has lengthened considerably, in some countries such as Spain and Greece, jobseekers need twice as much time before landing a new job than before the crisis. And, more and more of those potential workers are discouraged and remain outside the labour force, leading to skills degradation and obsolescence, and rising long-term unemployment, said Ekkehard Ernst, the main author of the report.

Mismatch, discouragement and active labour market policies
“With 23 million people estimated to have dropped out, it is imperative that active labour market policies be implemented more forcefully to address inactivity and skills mismatch,” said Ernst, who heads the Employment Trends Unit at the ILO Research Department.

A switch to more employment-friendly policies and rising labour incomes would boost economic growth and job creation, the report says. In emerging and developing countries, it is crucial to strengthen social protection floors and promote transitions to formal employment. This too would support aggregate demand and global growth.

Unemployment by country*


Trends across regions
  • In the Developed Economies and the European Union, labour market conditions showed no signs of improvement during 2013.
  • In Central and South-Eastern Europe (non-EU) and CIS countries, the fall in unemployment recorded since the crisis peak of 2009 was reversed in 2013.
  • In Latin America and the Caribbean, employment growth continued to outpace labour force expansion.
  • In East Asia, employment growth remained weak, consistent with weak labour force growth.
  • In South-East Asia and the Pacific, employment expanded by 1.6 per cent in 2013 and is projected to outpace growth in the working age population in the coming years.
  • In South Asia, labour markets continued to suffer from high rates of informal/agricultural employment where jobs are poorly paid and unprotected.
  • In the Middle East and North Africa, the economic growth rate in 2013 proved too low to generate sufficient employment opportunities for a fast growing population, and unemployment remained the highest in the world.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, paid employment opportunities are scarce and the vulnerable employment rate, at 77.4 per cent in 2013, remained the highest of all regions.

* Unemployment rates may differ from data published by national sources due to differences in coverage and/or definitions. In particular for 2012 and 2013, unemployment rates were estimated by the ILO in case data published by national sources were not yet available at the point of time at which the Global Employment Trends report was prepared. Source: ILO, Trends Econometric Models, October 2013.