Youth unemployment swelling worldwide

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GENEVA: The number of unemployed young people is set to swell by 500,000 worldwide this year to reach 71 million, marking the first hike in three years, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

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In a new report, the UN’s labor agency estimated that the global youth unemployment rate would reach 13.1 percent in 2016, up from 12.9 percent in 2015, and nearing its 2013 record high of 13.2 percent.

The increase “is driven by a deeper than expected recession in some key emerging commodity-exporting countries and stagnating growth in some developed countries,” said Steven Tobin, a senior economist at the International Labor Organization and the lead author of the report.

The situation was meanwhile expected to stabilize in 2017, according to the ILO report.

Perhaps of greater concern than stubbornly high youth unemployment, the report warned, was that more than a third of young people who have a job are living in extreme or moderate poverty, compared to just over a quarter of working adults.

Breaking down the numbers by region, the report showed that Arab states—hard-hit by a range of geopolitical tensions—count the world’s highest youth unemployment rate, at above 30 percent.

Within the region, young people in oil-exporting countries like Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were expected to face the greatest jobless rates amid a slowdown in growth and tighter fiscal policies, the report said.

North African countries also registered a youth unemployment rate near the 30-percent mark.

Working poor

In terms of development status, emerging countries were expected to see unemployment among 15-to 24-year-olds grow the most, rising from 13.3 percent in 2015 to 13.6 percent this year, affecting 53.5 million people, the report found.

The world’s most developed nations meanwhile count the highest youth unemployment rate, at 14.5 percent,
affecting 9.8 million people, with the situation expected to improve only slightly next year to 14.3 percent.

But the report stressed that this “does not reflect more favorable labor market conditions” in emerging and developing countries.

Instead, it indicates that “young people in these countries must often work, typically in poor-quality and low-paid jobs in order to provide basic necessities,” it said.

In fact, some 156 million working youths in emerging and developing countries are currently living in extreme poverty, meaning they have less than $1.90 a day, or in moderate poverty, which means they have to make do with under $3.10 a day.

“Given this twofold story of rising unemployment rate on one hand and a persistently high working poverty rate on the other hand it will be very difficult to reach the goal that we have set to end poverty by 2030,” Tobin told reporters, referring to one of the UN’s new targets for sustainable development.

He insisted the world needed to “redouble our efforts to achieve sustainable economic growth and decent work, including for youth.”

 

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