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ILO Sounds Alarm: Two Million Jobs Hang In Balance Globally In 2024

Daud Olatunji

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has released a concerning projection, indicating that up to two million workers worldwide may face unemployment in 2024. 

The ILO’s latest report, titled “World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2024,” highlights the potential increase in the global unemployment rate from 5.1% in 2023 to 5.2%.

While the report acknowledges a decline in joblessness and the jobs gap below pre-pandemic levels, it underscores the challenges posed by growing inequalities and stagnant productivity, raising concerns about the global employment landscape.

The global unemployment rate had experienced a positive trend, decreasing for three consecutive years from 6.9% in 2019 to 5.1% in 2023. However, the ILO’s projections suggest a reversal of this trend in the coming year.

Despite surprising resilience in labour markets amid challenging economic conditions, the recovery from the pandemic remains uneven.

 The report emphasises the emergence of new vulnerabilities and multiple crises, which are jeopardising prospects for achieving greater social justice globally.

“The 2023 global unemployment rate stood at 5.1%, a modest improvement from 2022 when it stood at 5.3%. 

The global jobs gap and labour market participation rates also improved in 2023,” the report stated.

In addition to the unemployment concerns, the report highlighted the persistence of working poverty. 

Although working poverty had quickly declined after 2020, the number of workers living in extreme poverty (earning less than US$2.15 per person per day in purchasing power parity terms) increased by approximately one million in 2023.

 Moreover, the number of workers living in moderate poverty (earning less than US$3.65 per day per person in PPP terms) rose by 8.4 million in the same year.

The ILO projected a challenging labour market outlook, indicating a worsening situation in terms of global unemployment. 

It emphasised the decline in disposable incomes in the majority of G20 countries and highlighted the slow compensation of living standards erosion caused by inflation.

Significant differences persist between higher and lower-income countries. In 2023, the jobs gap rate was 8.2% in high-income countries, compared to 20.5% in the low-income group. 

Similarly, while the 2023 unemployment rate was 4.5% in high-income countries, it rose to 5.7% in low-income countries.

The report anticipates that rates of informal work will remain stable, constituting approximately 58% of the global workforce in 2024.

Gilbert Houngbo, the Director-General of the ILO, expressed deep concern about the report’s findings.

 He stated, “This report looks behind the headline labour market figures and what it reveals must give great cause for concern.

 It is starting to look as if these imbalances are not simply part of pandemic recovery but structural.”

Houngbo emphasised the need for effective and swift measures to address workforce challenges, preventing falling living standards, weak productivity, and persistent inflation from exacerbating global inequality. 

He concluded, “Without greater social justice, we will never have a sustainable recovery.”

 

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