Global Joblessness Increases By 20 Million

January 24, 2003 ( - Economic crises and reduced global tourism have contributed to the 20 million-person increase in worldwide unemployment over the past two years.

The increase now leaves the total number for global unemployment at 180 million people, r epresenting 6.5% of a total global labor force of 2.8billion people, according to the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Global Employment Trends report.   Comparatively, in 2001, the number out of work was 160 million, or 5.9% of a then 2.7-billion person labor force

Additionally, the ILO told the Associated Press that millions of other people make barely enough money to survive on.   These “working poor”, people who earn less than $1 a day, bring the total number of unemployed, underemployed and working poor to 730 million worldwide.

Hard Hit Regions

Particularly hard hit are were the industrialized nations and Latin America, still feeling the ripples of 9/11 terrorist shockwaves and the reduced global tourism left in their wake.   The ILO attributes 10.5 million tourism related jobs being eliminated because of these terrorism acts.

The average rate of unemployment in Latin America now stands at 10%. Argentina, rocked by its own economic crisis, has a Great Depression-like unemployment rate of 22%.

The number of people unemployed in the European Union rose in 2002 to 7.6% of the labor force after experiencing a dip in 2001. Canada did not fare much better, recording an unemployment rate of 7.6%, while the United States reported a relatively low 5.6% in 2002.

Other Regions

Unemployment in regions like Asia and the Middle East is harder to measure because official statistics often fail to reflect the reality of joblessness, the ILO said.

“In most developing countries people are not counted as unemployed because there is no unemployment benefit, so they just go into the informal economy, which usually absorbs people who lose their jobs,” senior economist Claire Harasty told the Associated Press . “The informal sector plays a buffer role.”

In many countries young people were most affected by unemployment, the report said. It noted that in the Middle East and North Africa some 25% of young people were out of work and that university graduates often find it impossible to land a job.

The ILO estimates that global population growth will add 500 million new workers to the worldwide labor force over the next decade. “Added to the some 500 million working poor, that means we need to create one billion productive jobs in the next decade,” Harasty said.