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World's jobless to rise amid slower growth, political & economic uncertainty: UN agency

The ranks of the world’s jobless are expected to grow this year due to slow growth, political and economic uncertainty and a lack of investment, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Thursday.

Unemployment is rising in major emerging economies, especially those reliant on commodity exports such as Russia, South Africa and Brazil, the United Nations agency said.

Due to the failure to create jobs, global unemployment is forecast to increase by 3.4 million people in 2017, bringing the total to 201 million, it said in its annual report World Employment Social Outlook.

“That corresponds to an increase in the rate of unemployment in the world from 5.7 percent in the year that has just closed to 5.8 pct in 2017, and this is a tendency driven by deteriorating labour market conditions, particularly in emerging countries,” ILO director-general Guy Ryder told a news briefing.

“We have a situation in which, despite relatively high cash holdings, companies seem uncertain about investment. Investment levels are not where they need to be,” he added.


Globalisation and trade liberalisation are increasingly questioned, Ryder said, noting that the intentions of the incoming US administration of Donald Trump were a “major cause of uncertainty”.

Long-term unemployment remains stubbornly high in Europe, Canada and the United States, the report said. At the same time, social unrest and a lack of decent wages are prompting job-seekers to migrate from developing regions.

“Migration is an essential part of the world of work, it’s an essential part of stimulating future growth, sharing prosperity, making our global economy more inclusive,” said Ryder, a former head of the international trade union ICFTU.

“The irony, dilemma, paradox of our time is that at a moment when the economic case for migration, taken globally, has probably never been stronger, it seems that the social and political obstacles to migration are becoming even higher.”

Major commodity-exporting economies are hardest-hit by insufficient jobs.

“For instance, we note an increase in the unemployment rate in the Russian Federation, South Africa, Brazil … and some levelling off at least in Saudi Arabia and again also in Indonesia,” said ILO senior economist Steven Tobin.

Latin America and the Caribbean remain scarred by recent recessions, while sub-Saharan Africa is in the midst of its lowest level of growth in more than two decades, the report said.

Latin America’s unemployment rate is set to rise by 0.3 percent in 2017 to 8.4 percent, largely due to the slowdown in Brazil, the continent’s largest economy, it said.