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Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012
Sad state of global employment
The employment situation is worsening around the world, according to a report by the United Nations International Labor Organization (ILO). The report highlighted the disastrous effects of the global downturn on workers. Unemployment remains high around the world.
Over 200 million potential workers remain unemployed, for a global jobless rate of 6.0 percent. And the ILO estimates that 30 percent of all workers, 910 million people, can be considered working poor, surviving on an average of less than $2 a day.
Though the situation is slightly better than in 2009, when the financial crisis hit, slowing growth rates and 40 million new entrants to the labor force every year mean that 400 million additional jobs will be needed over the next decade. That number, on top of the current 200 million unemployed, may seem an insurmountable hurdle, but putting job creation first is one of the surest routes to economic improvement and social stability.
Particularly worrisome is that young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are nearly three times as likely to be unemployed as those older. The global youth unemployment rate stands at 12.7 percent, which is higher than before the crisis began. That means 74.8 million young people are currently not working. Those figures give new meaning to the phrase "lost generation." When jobs and income are lost, so is hope and direction.
There were a few hopeful signs in the report. The estimated number of workers living in extreme poverty, defined as below $1.25 a day, has been reduced by nearly 200 million since 2000. This change comes from general improvement in the East Asian region, especially in China. Roughly half of the working poor, though, still remain in extreme poverty.
With that global perspective in mind, Japan's struggle against unemployment is inextricably linked to conditions in other countries. Managing debt and stimulating growth are undertaken on a country-by-country basis, but the path to sustainable recovery runs through the global economy. Without recovery in other economies, Japan's economic revival will not be easy.
As is the case with other countries, Japan needs to take targeted measures to support job growth. Job creation, though, must be combined with investment incentives and increased oversight of financial institutions.
Though the capacity of Japan and other countries to create new jobs is currently limited, establishing the conditions for job growth is the first step to improving the lives of workers here and abroad. Once more and better jobs become available, the global economic recovery can at last begin to gain traction.