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Global unemployment worsens, two million may be jobless

Global unemployment and labour market outlook are expected to worsen this year with more than two million persons expected to be out of jobs. A report released by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), yesterday, ‘ILO’s World Employment and Social Outlook Trends: 2024 (WESO Trends)’, said that both the unemployment rate and the jobs gap rate – which is the number of persons without employment but who are interested in finding a job – have fallen below pre-pandemic levels.

According to the report, in 2024, an extra two million workers are expected to be looking for jobs, raising the global unemployment rate from 5.1 per cent in 2023 to 5.2 per cent.

It stated that the 2023 global unemployment rate stood at 5.1 per cent, a modest improvement from 2022 when it stood at 5.3 per cent, while the global jobs gap and labour market participation rates also improved.

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It stated that labour markets have shown surprising resilience despite deteriorating economic conditions, but recovery from the pandemic remained uneven as new vulnerabilities and multiple crises are eroding prospects for greater social justice.

The report stated that disposable incomes have declined generally and the erosion of living standards resulting from inflation is “unlikely to be compensated quickly”.

Also, it said important differences persist between higher and lower-income countries. It said while the jobs gap rate in 2023 was 8.2 per cent in high-income countries, it stood at 20.5 per cent in the low-income group.

Similarly, while the 2023 unemployment rate persisted at 4.5 per cent in high-income countries, it was 5.7 per cent in low-income countries. It added that working poverty is likely to persist.

Director-General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, described the report as a current reality, which reflects the global economy.

He said it would be double jeopardy for Nigeria if the federal government does not take proactive steps to ensure enterprise sustainability, especially as many organisations are divesting due to unfavourable operating environments.

“Despite quickly declining after 2020, the number of workers living in extreme poverty (earning less than $2.15 per person per day in purchasing power parity terms) grew by about 1 million in 2023. The number of workers living in moderate poverty (earning less than $3.65 per day per person in PPP terms) increased by 8.4 million in 2023,” the report said.

Additionally, it warned that income inequality has also widened, stating that the erosion of real disposable income, “bodes ill for aggregate demand and a more sustained economic recovery.”

It added that rates of informal work are expected to remain static, accounting for around 58 per cent of the global workforce in 2024. Presenting the report, ILO Director-General, Gilbert Houngbo, explained how growing inequalities and stagnant productivity are causes for concern.

Giving a deeper analysis, he revealed that labour market imbalances, unfortunately, are growing in a time of multiple and interacting global crises, thus eroding progress towards greater social justice. He lamented that the growing imbalances in economies and social systems pose a serious challenge to the goal of an equitable and just transition to a sustainable future.

Noting that this should be a cause of concern to nations, he said not only because it threatens economic well-being, but also because it threatens decent work is an essential component of greater social justice “And we need greater social justice if we are to build a future that is sustainable, equitable, and peaceful,” he said.

According to Oyerinde, firms leaving the country will only worsen the unemployment situation; it will also exacerbate the challenges of insecurity and put more pressure on households.

The NECA chief said the government needed to act urgently so that the negative consequences would not be too much for Nigeria. He said the government could achieve this by basically providing more support for organised businesses and making the business environment more hospitable not only for local investors but foreign investors.

“Once you get the businesses sustainable and focus on skills development, as more people get the requisite skills and competencies, they also become employers of labour, so drastically from both ends, you will reduce the issue of unemployment,” he said.

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