ILO on Job Losses and Poverty

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has issued a new report which is rather more pessimistic about jobs in 2009. In 2008, the global unemployment rate rose from 5.7% to 6.0% – that’s about 190 million people, 76 million of them young people. Depending on how the current economic crisis develops, another 50 million jobs could be lost worldwide and 200 million people returned to poverty (that will be 1.4 billion working poor).

To combat rising unemployment and rising poverty, the ILO recommends governments should:

i) wider coverage of unemployment benefits and insurance schemes, re-skilling redundant workers and protecting pensions from devastating declines in financial markets;

ii) public investment in infrastructure and housing, community infrastructure and green jobs, including through emergency public works;

iii) support to small and medium enterprises;

iv) social dialogue at enterprise, sectoral and national levels.*

The report deals in the regional rather than national level but some of the comments about ‘Southeast Asia and the Pacific’ are clearly directly relevant to Thailand:

In recent years South-East Asia and the Pacific has profited through trade and other economic linkages from the economic boom in China and India, and the slowdown in these countries will have a negative impact in the region. Reliance in many countries in South-East Asia on manufacturing exports to industrialized economies, foreign direct investment, tourism revenues and remittances, makes this region highly vulnerable to a prolonged recession in the developed world. Economic growth in the region declined to 5.1 per cent in 2008, and is currently projected to decline to 4.2 per cent in 2009.

The employment-to-population rate decreased slightly between 1998 and 2008, by 0.4 percentage points; the decrease was larger for youth than for adults. The unemployment rate in 2008 increased to 5.7 per cent, from 5.5 per cent in 2007.

As a proportion of the employed, extreme working poverty more than halved during 1997-2007. In 2007, 16.4 per cent of the employed were counted among the extreme working poor, but 46.6 per cent were among the working poor. In other words 30.2 per cent of the employed survived on between USD 1.25 and USD 2 a day.

* The Abhisit government has promised to do some of these things, to a limited extent – it remains to be seen how much this actually materializes (and yes I did have another dream about being arrested in the middle of the night so nothing controversial today or for the next few days from me).

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JW has been one of the first contributors to this blog before he gave up on it all in April 2010, during a time when Thai society got more and more polarized about political matters because of red-shirt protesters.

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