Asia Labour Force; estimates for 2015.

The prospects for successful economic integration, improved competitiveness and 

more productive employment in the coming years are significantly influenced by 

demographic factors, labour force trends, rapid technological change and global 


ASEAN’s labour force is massive and still growing. In 2007, it stood at about 

285 million and is expected to increase by around 40 million, or 14.1 per cent, 

between 2007 and 2015. The fastest labour force growth is projected to occur in 

countries with the greatest numbers of people who are poor and the largest informal 

economies, among them Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and 

the Philippines. And yet, the rate of labour force growth is slowing in other ASEAN 

countries (Singapore and Thailand) primarily due to demographic trends and ageing 

populations. In the coming years, these countries will increasingly need to address 

labour shortages and the related economic and social consequences, including the 

growing importance of skills development and adequate social security coverage. 

Globalization, technological change and accelerated ASEAN integration, 

among other factors, will continue to spur further structural transformation.


By  2015, the services sector is expected to be the largest sector in terms of employment in the region, accounting for over 41 per cent of total employment – up from 36.5 per cent in 2007. Underlying this trend, employment in ASEAN’s services sector will increase by a projected 28 million between 2007 and 2015, with employment in industry growing by 17.6 million and employment in agriculture declining by 7.1 million. The share of those vulnerable in total employment will remain enormous. In 2015, more than 55 per cent of ASEAN’s workers are likely to be characterized as vulnerable, although this represents a decrease from 60.1 per cent in 2007. Importantly, vulnerability is not only restricted to own-account workers and contributing family members but also wage workers who are in casual, part-time or temporary employment and other forms of atypical employment. By 2015, most of ASEAN’s population will reside in urban areas. Aside from natural increases, rural-to-urban migration is expected to continue or even escalate. Between 2007 and 2015, the region’s urban population will grow by an estimated 64.1 million, or nearly 25 per cent. The rural population will shrink by 9 million, or 2.9 per cent. In terms of the urban population growth rate, the most dramatic shifts will take place in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Viet Nam. Countries experiencing such rapid urban population growth will have to cope with the challenge of creating decent and environmentally friendly jobs in their bulging and increasingly polluted cities. 


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