After initially forecasting a rise in the global unemployment rate, the International Labour Organization (ILO) now expects the number of unemployed to fall by one million in 2023, according to a report published Wednesday that warns, however, of regional inequalities. "According to the latest ILO estimates, the global unemployment rate is expected to fall by 0.1 percentage points" to 5.3%, the Geneva-based organization said.
The number of unemployed people is expected to rise from 192 million in 2022 to 191 million in 2023, while the ILO still expected three million more unemployed in mid-January. Despite the positive surprise of this revision, it "reflects stronger than expected resilience in high-income countries rather than a broad-based recovery," the ILO said.
Some regions of the world, mainly composed of low-income countries, have not yet returned to the unemployment rate they experienced in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic. This is the case for North Africa (11.2% expected in 2023 against 10.9% in 2022), sub-Saharan Africa (6.3% against 5.7%) or the Arab States (9.3% against 8.7%).
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'Developing countries lagging far behind'
Many developing countries are still lagging far behind in the recovery process" of employment after the pandemic, Mia Seppo, Assistant Director-General for Employment and Social Protection at the ILO, told a press conference on Wednesday. These states, "which already host the most vulnerable people on the planet, face a particularly brutal combination of challenges: high inflation, rising interest rates and an increased risk of debt difficulties," she added.
All these challenges further limit their already constrained budgetary margins, and therefore prevent the governments of developing countries from supporting households and businesses. Conversely, "other regions of the world such as Latin America and the Caribbean, Northern, Western and Southern Europe as well as Central and Western Asia have managed to bring their rates down well below pre-crisis levels," observes the ILO.
But in Latin America, "the recovery of employment has often been fuelled by the growth of the informal economy," and thus the creation of lower-quality jobs, warns Sangheon Lee, director of the ILO's employment policy department. Countries whose unemployment rate has not fallen to 2019 levels, and in particular the most indebted, "urgently need support (...) and multilateral coordination to address persistent employment deficits and growing inequalities," the ILO said.
This call comes three weeks before the "Summit for a New Global Financial Pact", on 22 and 23 June in Paris, intended to continue discussions on financial solidarity mechanisms between developed countries and vulnerable states.