Global Unemployment to Trigger Further Social Unrest, UN Agency Forecasts

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by
The Guardian/UK

Global Unemployment to Trigger Further Social Unrest, UN Agency Forecasts

International Labour Organisation (ILO) notes that social unrest has already been reported in at least 25 countries

by
Julia Kollewe

Protests in Spain this week. The ILO has warned of further social unrest because of unemployment. (Photograph: Paul White/AP)

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has warned of growing
social unrest because it fears global employment will not now recover
until 2015.

This is two years later than its earlier estimate that
the labour market would rebound to pre-crisis levels by 2013. About 22
million new jobs are needed – 14 million in rich countries and 8 million
in developing nations.

The United Nations work agency today
warned of a long "labour market recession" and noted that social unrest
related to the crisis had already been reported in at least 25
countries, including some recovering emerging economies.

Crisis-hit
Spain faced its first general strike in eight years this week as unions
protested against the government's austerity measures and labour
reforms. The strike on Wednesday coincided with protests in Greece,
Portugal, Ireland, Slovenia and Lithuania, as well as demonstrations in Brussels by tens of thousands of workers from across Europe as part of a European day of action against public spending cuts.

"Fairness
must be the compass guiding us out of the crisis," said ILO director
general Juan Somavia. "People can understand and accept difficult
choices, if they perceive that all share in the burden of pain.
Governments should not have to choose between the demands of financial
markets and the needs of their citizens. Financial and social stability
must come together. Otherwise, not only the global economy but also social cohesion will be at risk."

Withdrawing fiscal stimulus too early

Raymond Torres, lead author of the ILO's annual World of Work report, published today, warned governments against withdrawing fiscal stimulus measures while the economic recovery was still weak.

Torres
said there were two main reasons for the bleaker outlook facing many
countries: "The first is that fiscal stimulus measures that were
critical in averting a deeper crisis and helped jump-start the economy
are now being withdrawn in countries where recovery, if any, is still
too weak," he said. "The second, and more fundamental factor is that the
root causes of the crisis have not been properly tackled."

The
ILO said the global economy had started growing again, with encouraging
signs of employment recovery, especially in some emerging economies in
Asia and Latin America. But it added: "Despite these significant gains
... new clouds have emerged on the employment horizon and the prospects
have worsened significantly in many countries."

Since the crisis
started in 2007, some 30-35 million jobs have been lost worldwide. The
ILO forecasts that global unemployment will hit 213 million this year, a
rate of 6.5%. For the United States, the number of jobs still needed to
regain pre-crisis levels is 6.9 million.

Many countries that
experienced employment growth at the end of 2009 are now seeing the jobs
recovery weaken. Even among people with jobs, satisfaction at work has
deteriorated significantly.

"The longer the labour market
recession, the greater the difficulties for jobseekers to obtain new
employment," the ILO report said. "In the 35 countries for which data
exists, nearly 40% of jobseekers have been without work for more than
one year and therefore run significant risks of demoralisation, loss of
self-esteem and mental health problems. Importantly, young people are
disproportionately hit by unemployment."

The ILO recommends three policies for a jobs-led recovery:

• Active labour market policies including work-sharing that target vulnerable groups such as young people, and training.

• A closer link between wages and productivity gains in surplus countries to boost demand and job creation.

• Financial sector reform to ensure savings are channelled to productive investment and the creation of more stable jobs.

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