Home > Uncategorized > The global jobs crisis

The global jobs crisis

from Merijn Knibbe (editor a.i. as Edward Fullbrook is in India)

The International Labor Organization has published its Global employment trends 2012: preventing a deeper jobs crisis. It’s grim. An excerpt from the executive summary:

The world faces a challenge of creating 600 million jobs over the next decade. … After three years of continuous crisis conditions in global labour markets and against the prospect of a further deterioration of economic activity, there is a backlog of global unemployment of 200 million – an increase of 27 million since the start of the crisis. In addition, more than 400 million new jobs will be needed over the next decade to avoid a further increase in unemployment. Hence, to generate sustainable growth while maintaining social cohesion, the world must rise to the urgent challenge of creating 600 million productive jobs over the next decade, which would still leave 900 million workers living with their families below the US$2 a day poverty line, largely in developing countries. Global labour markets show little improvement … Globally, young people are nearly three times as likely as adults to be unemployed. In addition, an estimated 6.4 million young people have given up hope of finding a job and have dropped out of the labour market altogether. Even those young people who are employed are increasingly likely to find themselves in part-time employment and often on temporary contracts. In developing countries, youth are disproportionately among the working poor … on the present course there is little hope for a substantial improvement in near-term employment prospects for young people.

Falling labour force participation masks an even worse global unemployment situation. In the world as a whole, there were nearly 29 million fewer people in the labour force in 2011 than expected based on pre-crisis trends, with 6.4 million fewer youth and 22.3 million fewer adults. This is equal to nearly 1 per cent of the actual global labour force in 2011, and nearly 15 per cent of the total number of unemployed in the world. If all of these potential workers were available to work and sought work, the number of unemployed would swell to over 225 million, or to a rate of 6.9 per cent, versus the actual rate of 6 per cent.

Globally, the employment-to-population ratio declined sharply during the crisis, from 61.2 per cent in 2007 to 60.2 per cent in 2010. This represents the largest such decline on record (since 1991) … As the global economy is slowing down again, the convergence of living standards across countries has also been slowing … Progress has been made in reducing extreme poverty among workers at the global level, but working poverty remains widespread. Among the 900 million working poor, there were an estimated 456 million workers around the world living in extreme poverty below the US$1.25 a day poverty line in 2011, a reduction of 233 million since 2000 and a decline of 38 million since 2007. However, this global aggregate is heavily influenced by the dramatic decline in extreme working poverty in the East Asia region, where, owing to rapid economic growth and poverty reduction in China, the number of poor workers has declined by 158 million since 2000 and by 24 million since 2007. Moreover, there has been a marked slowdown in the rate of progress in reducing working poverty since 2008


And about Financial Market Reforms:

In particular, it can be shown that the labour market effects of financial regulation will depend on the extent to which financial reforms in the domestic sector are being coordinated with changes in the international financial architecture. Chiefly, this can be related to the fact that increased regulation in both areas would yield a double dividend in the form of more stable financing conditions and a more equitable income distribution, which helps strengthen domestic demand. In the absence of changes in either domestic or international financial regulation, reform measures would not have sufficient positive effects to outweigh some of the costs they bring about, at least in the short run


  1. Alice
    January 25, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Its so frustrating that all the advantages of the great globailsation shift (and shifts can shift the other way) over the past three to four decades have gone to capital and labour has lost out badly.

    This situation needs to be reversed or there will be instability. People need jobs, the wealthy dont need so much of the returns of production sitting idly in unmanned boats and holiday mansions and various other investments.

    The reality is the entrepreneurs (and I strongly dispute the odious of repeated neoclassical assumption that only the wealthy are the creators of jobs – this is an utter nonsense – even the poor, when they have money to spend ,create jobs) ……. are well fed, they do not work hard enough and do not have the impetus to generate more jobs. For so long now its been an attack on jobs and on labour conditions and endless impoverishing off genuine jobs – the wealthy owners of capital dont know any different any more. They do sigma courses and MBAs and get told to follow the mantra…..cut soon, cut early, cut in between

    There is no honour in producing. The wealthy are so used to squeezing labour, they have lost the ability to treat people with respect, get the best out of them and in so doing create productivity returns, expansion and new jobs.

    We left it to the the elite to build wealth and trickle it down (we tried the experiment of freeing them from both taxes and regulation) but the experiment has simply failed us all, in nation after nation across the globe.

    I really think the neoclassicals resucitated the Taylorist management style long after we all thought no-one would ever be so stupid again..

    • January 25, 2012 at 10:39 am

      Why does no one ever consider the share which goes to land (and natural resources)? Yet a large proportion of land is idle because there is no cost involved and the capital gain can be happily anticipated at some time in the future.

    • January 25, 2012 at 10:43 am

      Richard Rogers writing in the FT yesterday claims that ‘England has more brownfield land than any other nation’.

  2. Dave Taylor
    January 26, 2012 at 2:53 am

    Alice @ #1: Like Bentham and his utilitarianism c.1800, Taylor and his efficiency c.1920’s seems to have been autistic in the Asperger form, i.e. highly intelligent but insensitive to context and other people’s emotions. I therefore agree with what you say about neo-con management style, but caution against throwing the conceptual content out with the emotional bathwater. Efficiency does hinge on getting the right man for the job, and quality does hinge on the producer being answerable for it to the recipient. In Taylor’s concept of “functional foremen”, each member of a production line is answerable to the following one, as well as all of them being answerable to the overseer.

    Carol @ #2: I have done, but my interest is “Why?” rather than “How Much”? Accepting the facts in your second sentence, their sequence is similar to that of hearing something said and writing it down so you won’t forget it, knowing you can say it again. The point is that money is an ephemeral form of communication. Credit given by other people can be consolidated as a share of the land and regenerated as rent or capital gains. By then, however, this uncertain world may have changed, so there is a fourth factor in this cycle: insurance. The City has grown fat on its Banks printing credit notes, Stock Markets laundering this by accepting this fictitious payment in exchange for shares, Insurers upping prices by selling shares in illusions of security, and Speculators paying off their nominal debts and acquiring real land and the property on it by paper-money gains made by the talking up prices. Banking should be like the expansion tank in a hot water central heating system, but as of now economic heating is stored as price rises circulating ever faster round that leaky parasitic loop, which sucks credit out of the economy in the event of it cooling.

    Carol @ #3: Why more brownfield sites? Chesterton here echoes Goldsmith’s “The Deserted Village”:

    “Ill fares the land: to hastening ills a prey,
    Where wealth accumulates and men decay

    And irony, that glares like Judgement day
    Sees men accumulate and wealth decay”.

  3. January 28, 2012 at 8:21 am

    When the phrase “job creation” is mentioned, read no further. Who in their right mind would create a job for themselves?

    The purpose of work is to satisfy our own desires. Since human talents are diverse, we do what we are best at and exchange the products of our labour. So it has been since the dawn of human history.

    For this to be possible, everyone must have free access to the natural resources of the planet and free exchange of labour and its products. Land enclosure prevents the first, and the taxation of labour, goods, services and transactions prevents the second. This ought to be obvious, not least to those in outfits such as the International Labour Organisation. Clearly it is not. In the meantime, when “experts” come out with nonsensical statements about the need to create jobs, they should either be ignored or ridiculed.

  4. April 15, 2012 at 6:49 am

    The thing about this is that we really shouldn’t rely too much on the government for jobs creation… it’s like having to ask our parents for money to buy a new iphone or something… We are humans, we are created with this big brain for something… with the internet today, people can now easily learn various skills to help us create jobs for ourselves and probably create jobs for others as well…The problem with this is that people does not seem to know how to access information in the internet. By using the social media we can inform people on the actions that we must take… convince people that they should rely on themselves and stop whining for things that is hardly controlled.

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