Global unemployment crosses 200-mn mark in 2013, India's jobless rate to inch up to 3.8% in 2014

Written by Raj Kumar Ray | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 23 2014, 18:38pm hrs
UnemploymentUneven economic recovery and successive downward revisions in economic growth projections have had an impact on the global employment situation. (Thinkstock)
Global unemployment rate crossed 200 million in 2013 with bulk of the jobless coming from East and South Asia, indicating that employment opportunities lagged growth in labour force due to slower economic recovery.

In its global employment trends report, ILO forecast India's unemployment rate to inch up to 3.8% in 2014 from 3.7% estimated for 2013 while China's rate is expected to rise to 4.7% from 4.6%. Although the unemployment rates for India and China are much lower compared to crisis-hit European nations such as Greece, Portugal and Spain or some of the West Asian and African nations, India and China still make up a major chunk of jobless workers going by the 1-billion plus population and over 500 million labour force.

"Uneven economic recovery and successive downward revisions in economic growth projections have had an impact on the global employment situation. Almost 202 million people were unemployed in 2013 around the world, an increase of almost 5 million compared with the year before. This reflects the fact that employment is not expanding sufficiently fast to keep up with the growing labour force," ILO said in the report.

"The bulk of the increase in global unemployment is in the East Asia and South Asia regions, which together represent more than 45% of additional job seekers, followed by sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. By contrast, Latin America added fewer than 50,000 additional unemployed to the global number or around 1% of the total increase in unemployment in 2013," it said.

Over and above an already large number of job seekers, ILO said the crisis-related global jobs gap that started widening since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008, continues to widen. "In 2013, this gap reached 62 million, including 32 million additional job seekers, 23 million people who became discouraged and no longer look for jobs and 7 million economically inactive people who prefer not to participate in the labour market," ILO said.

Based on the current trends, ILO said "global unemployment is set to worsen further, albeit gradually, reaching more than 215 million job seekers by 2018. During this period, around 40 million net new jobs would be created every year, which is less than the 42.6 million people expected to enter the labour market every year."

What's worrying is that youth unemployment has risen to 74.5 million in 2013, almost 1 million more than in 2012. The youth unemployment rate has risen to 13.1%, which is almost three times as high as the adult unemployment rate.

"Indeed, the youth-to-adult unemployment ratio has reached a historical peak. It is particularly high in West Asia and North Africa as well as in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean and southern Europe," the report said.

The only silver-lining is that the number of working poor continues to decline globally, albeit at a slower rate than during previous decades. In 2013, ILO said 375 million workers (or 11.9% of total employment) are estimated to live on less than $1.25 a day and 839 million workers (or 26.7 per cent of total employment) have to cope with $2 a day or less. This is a substantial reduction in comparison with the early 2000s when the corresponding numbers of working poor below $1.25 and $2 were more than 600 million and more than 1.1 billion, respectively.