The number of unemployed people around the world is expected to decline this year, but the prospects for employment recovery remain cloudy, according to the 11th edition of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Labour World Monitoring Report released on Wednesday.
Global unemployment is expected to fall to 191 million in 2023, equivalent to a global unemployment rate of 5.3 percent, lower than pre-pandemic levels, but estimates suggest that low-income countries are still lagging far behind in the recovery process, the report said.
The ILO predicts that low-income countries in Africa and the Arab region are unlikely to return to pre-pandemic unemployment levels this year. The unemployment rate in North Africa is projected to be 11.2% in 2023 (10.9% in 2019); 6.3% in sub-Saharan Africa (5.7% in 2019); In Arab countries, 9.3%(8.7% in 2019).
Other regions have managed to bring their unemployment rates substantially below pre-crisis levels: 6.7% in Latin America and the Caribbean (8.0% in 2019), 6.3% in Northern, Southern and Western Europe (7.0% in 2019), and 7.8% in Central and Western Asia (9.2% in 2019).
The report noted that while global unemployment has fallen, challenges remain on the path to employment recovery, mainly in the form of a widening employment gap and rising debt levels.
In terms of the employment gap, the report says low-income countries have the largest employment gap, at a staggering 21.5 percent, while middle-income countries have a gap of just over 11 percent. High-income countries had the lowest rate at 8.2 per cent. Moreover, the report notes that low-income countries are the only national income group with a long-term increase in the employment gap, from 19.1 percent in 2005 to 21.5 percent in 2023.
In terms of debt levels, the report says that for developing countries, rising debt levels pose additional challenges and significantly narrow the scope for policy interventions. Financial and fiscal constraints have hampered responses to multiple crises, thereby exacerbating employment disparities. According to the report, low-income developing countries Mired in debt face a larger employment gap, reaching 25.7 percent in 2023, compared with 11 percent in developing countries with a low risk of debt crisis.