ILO report: The world of work is in a world of hurt

In a new report, the International Labour Organization — the employment research and policy arm of the United Nations — concludes that there is no fast recovery in sight for the global labor market. From an ILO news release and summary:

Despite signs that economic growth has resumed in some regions, the global employment situation is alarming and shows no sign of recovery in the near future, says the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The ILO’s “World of Work Report 2012: Better Jobs for a Better Economy” says that around 50 million jobs are still missing compared to the situation that existed before the crisis. It also warns that a new and more problematic phase of the global jobs crisis is emerging.

Four factors

The ILO identifies four key factors contributing to its conclusions:

First, this is due to the fact that many governments, especially in advanced economies, have shifted their priority to a combination of fiscal austerity and tough labour market reforms. . . .

Second, in advanced economies, many job seekers are demoralized and are losing skills, something which is affecting their chances of finding a new job. . . .

Third, in most advanced economies, many of the new jobs are precarious. Non-standard forms of employment are on the rise in 26 out of the 50 economies with available information. . . .

Fourth, the social climate has aggravated in many parts of the world and may entail further social unrest.

Job-friendly public policies

The report acknowledges that there are no easy solutions. However, it “argues that if a job-friendly policy-mix of taxation and increased expenditure in public investment and social benefits is put in place, approximately 2 million jobs could be created over the next year in advanced economies.”


The trends and underlying data marshalled by the ILO paint a very disturbing picture that largely mirrors what we’re seeing at the ground level. The Great Recession continues to define the world we live in, and the notion of a “jobless recovery” (an all-time oxymoron) has taken hold even in nations where other economic indicators are pointing up.

As I’ve said many times on this blog, it’s not as if we’ve run out of important, meaningful work that needs doing. Something is fundamentally wrong with economic structures that cannot match those needs with decent jobs at decent pay.


For the ILO’s detailed news release and report summary, go here.

For a complete copy of the ILO report (128 pp., pdf, free of charge), go here.

One response

  1. Legislating shorter work weeks, more vacation and sick time, and providing a good guaranteed public pension so that older workers can step aside allowing younger ones the space to move up could go a long way to solving the problem. But it won’t happen unless it is legislated because businesses like having people work 60 plus workweeks for smaller and smaller wages and benefits. They like hiring people at 20 hours /week with no benefits. They like high unemployment because it keeps workers desperate to take and keep any job, no matter how bad. That is how they rake in the profits and how the 1% continues to get richer.

    If you want a model for the “ideal” workplace look no further than the US military. Excellent leave policies, the only real pension left in the US with the ability to collect half pay after 20 years, and pretty much mandatory retirement after 30. Not to mention medical care and really inexpensive health insurance when you retire. What is so scary is that the military system of benefits was considered “poor” when the big corporations like IBM and GM were providing real benefits in the 50’s and 60’s.

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