Beyond the measurement of unemployment and underemployment

The report of the ILO Working Group on Labour Underutilization entitled “Beyond Unemployment: Measurement of Other Forms of Labour Underutilization” (ILO 2008) revisits the appropriateness of the current international standards concerning the statistical measurement of employment and unemployment. It suggests that the standard indicator of unemployment is maintained, while at the same time it calls for the introduction of supplementary indicators of various dimensions of underemployment.

Based on this document, this report attempts to provide both theoretical and empirical rationales for complementing and ameliorating the present standards of labour market and employment statistics applied in industrialized and transition countries. It demonstrates how the measurement of the rate of unemployment and the broader concept of underemployment is influenced by the institutional and regulatory context of national labour markets affecting the international harmonization of the relevant indicators. It draws attention to the vast degree of change in the forms and structure of employment and labour markets, and also the evolution of the employment policy framework that occurred in industrialized and transition countries in recent decades. In light of these developments, it calls for an extended set of statistical measurement focussed not merely on the quantity of labour underutilization, but also on the quality of employment and work in order to better reflect the contemporary performance of labour markets.