Rising unemployment and persistent inequality are moving decent work out of reach for many

Anna Triponel

January 27, 2020

The International Labour Organisation (ILO), in its report the World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2020, finds that almost half a billion people (470 million) are working fewer paid hours than they would like or lack adequate access to paid work. The report notes that the share of national income which goes to labour declined substantially between 2004 and 2017, from 54 to 51 % (in particular in Europe, Central Asia and the Americas).

The report finds that “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.”

Another key finding relates to “substantial inequalities” which “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.”

“For millions of ordinary people, it’s increasingly difficult to build better lives through work. Persisting and substantial work-related inequalities and exclusion are preventing them from finding decent work and better futures. That’s an extremely serious finding that has profound and worrying implications for social cohesion.”                      

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, Insufficient paid work affects almost half a billion people, new ILO report shows (ILO, 20 January 2020)

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