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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

 Global unemployment down but working poverty is rampant, says UN

ILO forecasts jobless rate of 5.5 per cent this year, down on the 5.6 per cent recorded in 2017

Three out of every four workers have a ‘vulnerable’ employment status in the developing world, the ILO report said. Jeff Holt/Bloomberg News
Three out of every four workers have a ‘vulnerable’ employment status in the developing world, the ILO report said. Jeff Holt/Bloomberg News

The global unemployment rate is expected to fall this year, the United Nations said on Monday, while warning that far too many workers still live in desperate poverty.

The International Labour Organisation forecast a worldwide unemployment rate of 5.5 per cent this year, a marginal improvement on the 5.6 per cent recorded last year, thanks to broad economic growth.

But in its flagship World Employment and Social Outlook trends report, the ILO also raised serious red flags about the health of the planet’s labour market.

“Even though global unemployment has stabilised, decent work deficits remain widespread - the global economy is still not creating enough jobs,” the organisation’s director-general, Guy Ryder, said in a statement.

A key problem is the abundance of "vulnerable employment", a category that includes informal work arrangements with little or no social and contractual protections.

“The significant progress achieved in the past in reducing vulnerable employment has essentially stalled since 2012,” the ILO said.

The problem is most acute in the developing world, where three out of every four workers have a "vulnerable" employment status, the report said.

The study’s lead author, ILO economist Stephan Kuhn, pointed out that 40 per cent of all employed people in the developing world still live in "extreme poverty".

Uneven economic growth and the huge concentration of global wealth in the hands of very few is expected to be a key topic at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, which opens on Tuesday.

The charity group Oxfam reported on Monday that 82 per cent of the wealth created last year was controlled by the world's richest one per cent.

For ILO chief Mr Ryder, broadening the benefits economic growth remains the key priority.

“Additional efforts need to be put in place to ensure that the gains of growth are shared equitably,” he said.