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ILO’s Report on World Employment and Social Outlook – Over 630 million workers worldwide still live in extreme or moderate poverty

The enormous challenges in the world of work – including persistent inequalities and exclusion – make it more vital than ever to establish a clear picture of global employment and social trends. This requires critical reflection on the adequacy of our methods and concepts, with innovations where needed, to address today’s policy challenges. We need to question, for example, whether the unemployment rate provides the most reliable measure of labour market underperformance. We need to understand whether or not people of working age can realize their full potential in work. Measurement also becomes crucial to evaluate the growing perception that labour markets are not adequately distributing the fruits of economic growth. While evidence shows that countries are not experiencing an upward convergence of employment opportunities and income gains, we need to understand with greater precision which groups of workers are winning and which ones are losing. Robust answers to these questions can feed directly into the design of economic and social policies that will navigate a sustainable and inclusive path of development.

This report seeks to rise to this challenge by offering novel evidence and insights that enhance our understanding of labour market performance around the world, as well as by presenting the most recent data characterizing long-standing labour market challenges. It offers four key messages.
First, projected lower economic growth and the lack of inclusiveness are very likely to impair the ability of lower-income countries to reduce poverty and improve working conditions.

Second, a more comprehensive measure of the underutilization of people of working age reveals major gaps in access to work; the rate of “total labour underutilization” is pronounced and greatly exceeds that of unemployment.

Third, even when people have a job, there remain significant deficiencies in work quality. Decent work concerns the adequacy of wages or self- employment earnings, the right to job security and a safe and healthy workplace, access to social protection, the opportunity to voice one’s views and concerns through a trade union, employers’ organization or other representative body, and other fundamental rights such as non- discrimination. Decent work deficits are especially pronounced in the informal economy, which registers the highest rates of in-work poverty and high shares of people who are own-account self-employed or contributing family workers who lack adequate protection.

Fourth, substantial inequalities prevail in the access to work and work quality. These include key lines of segmentation among workers, according to geographical location (between countries and between workers in urban and rural areas), sex and age. Moreover, new ILO data on labour income (for all workers, including the self-employed) demonstrate that, at the global level, income inequality is far greater than previously thought.

Over 630 million workers worldwide still live in extreme or moderate poverty

Poor working conditions also manifest themselves in low incomes. In 2019, more than 630 million workers worldwide – that is, almost one in five, or 19 per cent, of all those employed – did not earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of extreme or moderate poverty; which is defined as them earning less than US$3.20 per day in purchasing power parity terms. While the rate of working poverty has been declining at the global level, very limited progress has been achieved in low-income countries. The projected high employment growth in these countries, driven mainly by the creation of jobs of poor
quality, means that the number of working poor is expected to edge up during 2020–21. As a result, the objective of eradicating extreme poverty everywhere by 2030 – Goal 1 of the Sustainable Development Goals – will become even harder to attain. Insufficient economic growth per capita is one of the reasons why it has not yet been possible to improve tangibly the livelihoods of so many workers in low-income countries, which are falling behind middle-income countries in that respect.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @  World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2020


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