Almost half a billion people around the world are stuck in poverty as they struggle to find work or a job that is adequately paid, according to a new report from the International Labour Organization (ILO), a U.N. agency.
“For millions of ordinary people, it’s increasingly difficult to build better lives through work,” ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said in a statement. “Persisting and substantial work-related inequalities and exclusion are preventing them from findings decent work and better futures. That’s an extremely serious finding that has profound and worrying implications for social cohesion.”
The U.N. agency noted that more than 470 million people in the world are affected by insufficiently paid work, and lack the employment opportunities that would meet their needs. Out of a working-age population of 5.7 billion individuals around the world, as much as 165 million people are employed but unable to find work with an adequate amount of paid hours.
The report also said a further 119 million had either abandoned actively searching for work or could not access to the jobs market because of their personal situations. In addition, the agency observed that unemployment is projected to increase by around 2.5 million in 2020.
Earlier in January, a UN report on the economy showed that developed countries are experiencing slow growth, and some African countries are stagnating. The consequence is that not enough new jobs are being created to absorb the growing labour force as it enters the market. In addition, many African countries are experiencing a drop in real incomes and a rise in poverty.
Global unemployment has been relatively stable over almost a decade, but weaker levels of economic growth mean that “as the global labour force increases, not enough new jobs are being generated to absorb new entrants to the labor market,” the researchers wrote.
ILO’s study was released as global political and business elites are heading to the Swiss ski resort of Davos where the World Economic Forum (WEF) will be held from Jan. 21 to 24. Eradicating poverty is an important element of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development but, according to the ILO study, moderate or extreme working poverty – de?ned as earning less than the equivalent of $3.20 per day–is expected to edge up in 2020-21 in developing countries.
Inequalities related to gender, age and geographical location continue to plague the job market, with the report showing that these factors limit both individual opportunity and economic growth. Some 267 million young people aged 15-24 are not in employment, education or training, and many more endure substandard working condition. The rise in trade restrictions and protectionism, which could have a significant impact on employment, is seen as a potentially worrying trend, as is the significant drop in the share of national income in the form of wages, compared to other forms of production.
The report’s authors recommend that countries ensure that economic growth and development occurs in a way that leads to the reduction of poverty and better working conditions in low-income countries, through structural transformation, technological upgrading and diversification.