Global Unemployment Grows Amid Economic Slowdown

The outlook for the year ahead and beyond is not very promising. The International Labor Organization warns that the current global economic slowdown will force millions of workers to accept lower quality, poorly paid jobs.  

In its “World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2023” report, the ILO predicts global unemployment will rise by 3 million for a total of 208 million this year with similar projections for 2024. 

ILO director of work quality, Manuela Tomei, said both the quantity and quality of jobs will deteriorate, and that working conditions are expected to worsen while wages go down. 

“Workers in low- and middle-income countries are expected to be hardest hit,” Tomei explained. “And with the pandemic and the economic slowdown across the globe, the prospects of seeing a reduction in informality and poverty have and will deteriorate further.”  

The report warns the cost-of-living crisis will push more people into poverty, widening the gap between rich and poor. It also notes that about 2 billion people, mainly in developing countries, work in the informal economy.  

According to the report, the slowing global economy is likely to reverse the progress which has been made since 2004 in moving people out of the informal sector.  

In addition to the millions of reported unemployed, the ILO says 473 million people last year stopped actively searching for work. It explains they either were discouraged about prospects of finding a job or had other obligations such as care responsibilities. 

For the first time since the 1970s, Tomei said stagflation conditions— that is high inflation and low growth combined — are threatening productivity and labor market recovery. 

She added that, “The Ukrainian war, geopolitical tensions, disruption in supply chains, high inflation, the tightening of monetary policies, and great uncertainty overall are all contributing to depressing the prospects for labor markets.”   

The ILO reports young people aged 15 to 24 are facing severe difficulties in finding employment, and that they are three times more likely to be out of a job than adults. It adds young women are faring much worse than young men, and that only 47.4 percent of women participated in the global labor force last year compared with 72.3 percent for men. 



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