International Chronicle: A recovery that calls for action

International Chronicle: A recovery that calls for action
International Chronicle: A recovery that calls for action

A fragile recovery that calls for action

Steven Kapsos Head of the ILO Data Analysis Unit

Published: 06/14/2024, 08:16

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The world of work seems at a crossroads, torn between encouraging signs and persistent challenges. If the global macroeconomic outlook looks stable, with GDP growth of 3.2% forecast for 2024 and 2025 by the IMF, the geopolitical crises have unfortunately seen no respite. Deadly hotbeds of tension persist in the Middle East, in Ukraine, in Yemen, in Haiti and even in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to name just a few, hampering the efforts of multilateralism.

On the employment front, the International Labor Organization (ILO) forecasts a global unemployment rate of 4.9% this year, down slightly from 2023 (5%). An improvement that must be put into perspective because this rate still translates into 183 million unemployed people in the world, a figure that is still too high behind which lies a more alarming reality. The ILO estimates that the “employment gap”, that is to say the number of people without a job but wishing to work, will in fact reach 402 million people this year.

Among the populations most affected by this lack of opportunities are women, particularly in low-income countries. In these nations, the employment deficit reaches 22.8% for women, compared to 15.3% for men. A glaring inequality, which adds to that of remuneration: in the richest countries, women earn on average 73 cents for each dollar earned by a man, a ratio which drops to 44 cents in poor countries.

The fight against informality also seems to be running out of steam. Formal job creation has not kept pace with the increase in the working-age population. The number of informal workers increased from around 1.7 billion in 2005 to 2.0 billion in 2024.

Faced with these findings, the ILO calls for the urgent adoption of a “global approach” aimed at reducing poverty and inequalities in labor markets. Despite the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, progress in these areas has lagged behind the previous decade.

It is in this context that last year the ILO launched the Global Coalition for Social Justice, an initiative aimed at bringing together all relevant actors – governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations, multilateral institutions, civil society – around a common program to promote decent work. Switzerland is one of the 68 governments that have joined this initiative, which currently has more than 250 partners.

The Coalition aims to promote decent working conditions and strengthen collective resilience in the face of ongoing changes. Faced with technological changes, economic shocks and environmental challenges, it is essential to rethink our models. Director General Gilbert F. Houngbo reiterated this again during the first Coalition Forum which was held yesterday, Thursday, June 13, in Geneva as part of the International Labor Conference.

Only concerted and determined action, transcending divisions, will make it possible to address the complex challenges facing the world of work. It is by joining forces and placing social justice at the heart of our priorities that we can truly tackle the injustices, inequalities and factors of insecurity that we face today.

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