Tough times on the labour market

In the Developed Economies and European Union, total employment is projected to shrink this year by between 1.3 per cent and 2.7 per cent. The region is likely to account for 35 per cent to 40 per cent of the total global increase in unemployment, despite accounting for less than 16 per cent of the global labour force.

In Central and South Eastern Europe (non-EU) and CIS the number of unemployed could increase by as much as 35 per cent in 2009. Total employment is set to shrink by between one and 2.8 per cent.

In East Asia, it is estimated that 267 million people, representing more than one third of the total employed, were living on less than $2 per day at the onset of the crisis.

There were about 12 times as many people in vulnerable employment as in unemployment.

In South East Asia and the Pacific a fairly moderate increase in unemployment is projected for this region, though workers and firms in export-oriented industries are being hit hard.

In South Asia, about five per cent of the labour force is unemployed but nearly 15 times as many workers are employed, but in vulnerable employment. The number of workers living on less than $2 per day is projected to grow by up to 58 million between 2007 and 2009.

In Latin America, the unemployment rate is projected to rise from 7.1 per cent in 2007 to between 8.4 and 9.2 per cent in 2009.

The ILO projects an increase in unemployment of up to 25 per cent in the Middle East and up to 13 per cent in North Africa in 2009 compared to 2007. Vulnerable employment is also expected to increase in both regions. Around one in three workers in each region are in vulnerable employment and this ratio could rise to as much as four in 10.

In sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 73 per cent of the workers are in vulnerable employment, and this could rise to 77 per cent this year. The crisis poses a serious threat to investment in infrastructure and capital goods that are crucial for the region’s continued development.

The potential harm of global trade protectionism in response to the crisis should not be understated.

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