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A Snapshot of the Changing World of Work in 6 Graphics – Part II

What does the world of work look like today? The six graphics below will attempt to illustrate.

The “Inception Report for the Global Commission on the Future of Work” highlighted that considerable progress has been achieved in the world of work. While considerable progress has been achieved in the world of work, there has also been growth in inequality, insecurity and exclusion.

The Progress Gained

Since 1991, global job creation has been trending steadily upwards with about 3.2 billion in total employment in 2016 (green line). Additionally, one billion workers have joined the workforce since 1991 due to increasing attainability of education. However, the employment-to-population ratio, which is the proportion of the country’s working age population who have employment (statistics are often given for ages 15 to 64) has tapered slightly. Female participation in the labour force has also risen currently standing at 49% globally, although more progress is needed in Arab States, Northern Africa and Southern Asia. Moreover, the gender gap has narrowed but it is still 27% behind the male participation rate of 76%.

For more information watch the new short video on the employment trends for 2018. For the full report, go to the World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2018 Report.

Report in Short – Employment Trends for 2018 | ILO

Additionally, we are also seeing the decline in working poverty as the number of workers living in extreme poverty (Families living on less than US$1.90 per person, per day in 2016 dollars) globally has dramatically decreased from above 50% in 1991 to around 10% in 2016. Majority of the working poor today reside in developing countries, especially in fragile countries, where it affects close to 70% of the employed population with large informal economies like in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Liberia, and Madagascar.

Significant gains have been made in the percentage of countries covered by at least one form of social protection, which is at 45%. There are also improvements in occupational health and safety, as the number of fatal injuries per 1,000 workers has dropped from an average of 7.5 over the period of 2003-2007 to 3.5 over 2011-2015. These improvements in working conditions could be attributed to the increased implementation of international labour standards, which has grown since of the creation of the ILO in 1919. About three-quarters of the ILO’s 187 member states have ratified all of the core eight Fundamental Conventions, which guarantee, among other things, the freedom of association and right to organize, the right to collectively bargain, and the elimination of discrimination, forced labour, and child labour.

The Challenges Ahead

Approximately, 200 million people who are actively seeking employment around the world remain jobless in 2016 — an unemployment rate of about 5.7%. Of this, 70 million of these people are unemployed youth between the ages of 15-24. The global employment rate is at 59.2% or 3.2 billion workers, and about 2 billion individuals or 35.1% are outside of the labour force. Women and youth are more likely to be unemployed and underemployed than their male and adults counterparts. Workers in developing countries are facing a decrease in the quality of work along with the highest rates of informality, underemployment, and working poverty.

1.4 billion workers, or 43% of employed persons globally, work in vulnerable forms of employment.Workers in vulnerable forms of employment are often in working poverty and in the informal economy. One of the important factors of the high number of vulnerable forms of work, or poorer job quality in recent years, is the raise in non-standard forms of employment. While new forms of work are offering greater firm flexibility,  they are also associated with greater job insecurity, precarity, and limited access to social protection or training.  

Inequality is growing in the workplace.  Productivity is rapidly increasing while  wages are stagnating. Between 2006 and 2015, labour productivity increased on average by 2.3% per year, while wages grew by only 2.1%. All regions saw an increase in income inequality with the exception of Latin America.

The Changing World of Work Series

This article is a part of the #ChangingWorldofWork Series, which examines the “Inception Report for the Global Commission on the Future of Work” by highlighting its key findings and conclusions. The series aims to unpack and explore the emerging research and conversations driving how the world of work is evolving today.