I warned International Labour Organization In a recent sobering assessment of the global labor market's impending rise in The unemployment Global 2024. While the initial recovery after the Corona pandemic showed relative resilience, the International Labor Organization’s report on global employment and social outlook for new year trends reveals underlying fragility, with growing social inequalities and stagnant productivity raising major concerns.
The report – released in Geneva – highlights the precise challenges that threaten to undermine the prospects for achieving greater social justice, raising questions about the trajectory of the global workforce.
Resilience amidst challenges
The report – a copy of which was viewed by Al Jazeera Net – highlights the relative flexibility shown by labor markets despite the deterioration of economic conditions. Both the unemployment rate and the job gap rate have fallen below pre-pandemic levels, reaching 5.1% in 2023, a slight improvement from 5.3% in 2022. However, the report warns that these positive numbers mask a fragility that may lead to… To worsen labor market expectations and higher global unemployment rates in 2024.
The report predicts that in 2024, two million additional workers will search for jobs, raising the global unemployment rate from 5.1% in 2023 to 5.2% in the new year. Expectations driven by declining disposable income in the majority of G20 countries, the erosion of living standards due to inflation is unlikely to be quickly offset.
It is worth noting that large disparities still exist between high-income and low-income countries, with the job gap and unemployment rates rising in the latter countries, according to the report.
The report notes that although the numbers of working poor fell after 2020, the number of workers living in extreme poverty increased by about one million people in 2023. Income inequality widened, raising concerns about its impact on aggregate demand and sustainable economic recovery.
The International Labor Organization expects informal work rates to remain constant, representing about 58% of the global labor force in 2024.
Labor market imbalances
While labor market participation rates have returned to pre-pandemic levels for some sectors, the report indicates that disparities remain in many sectors.
As for women’s participation in work, the report documents a rapid recovery in women’s participation after its decline following the pandemic, but the report points out the noticeable gap that still exists between the genders, especially in emerging and developing countries. Unemployment rates among youth and marginalized groups pose challenges to long-term employment opportunities, especially for young women.
The report also reveals that those returning to the labor market after the pandemic are working fewer hours than before, and the number of sick leave has increased significantly.
Despite the brief post-pandemic recovery, labor productivity has returned to its low levels of the past decade. The report identifies barriers to productivity growth, including investment directed towards less productive sectors, skills shortages, and the dominance of large digital monopolies that hinder technology adoption.
ILO Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo expressed deep concern over the report's findings, noting that the imbalances identified in the report may not be temporary recovery issues but structural challenges.
Houngbo points out that the expected impacts are far-reaching, and pose threats to the livelihoods of individuals and companies. Adding that low living standards, weak productivity, and persistent inflation create conditions for greater disparities among people, which undermines efforts to achieve social justice.