Sunday 18 February 2018

Austerity to blame as jobless crisis deepens worldwide

Stephanie Nebehay

FISCAL austerity and tough labour reforms have failed to create jobs, leading to an "alarming" situation in the global employment market which shows no sign of recovering, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said.

In advanced countries, especially in Europe, employment is not expected to return to pre-crisis levels of 2008 until the end of 2016 -- two years later than it previously predicted -- in line with a slowdown in production.

An estimated 196 million people were unemployed worldwide at the end of last year. This is forecast to rise to 202 million in 2012 -- a rate of 6.1pc, according to the United Nations agency's annual flagship report, 'World of Work Report 2012'.

"Austerity has not produced more economic growth," Raymond Torres, director of the ILO Institute for International Labour Studies, told a news briefing.

"The ill-conceived labour market reforms in the short-term cannot work either. These reforms in situations of crisis tend to lead to more job destruction and very little job creation, at least in the short term," said Mr Torres, the report's lead author.

Long-term jobseekers are demoralised and an average of 40pc of job seekers in their prime (aged 25-49) in advanced countries have been without work for more than a year.

Youth jobless rates have soared, increasing the risk of social unrest especially in parts of Africa and the Middle East.

The labour market overall has deteriorated over the past six months, with a very significant slowdown in the case of European countries, Mr Torres said. Unemployment is growing in a significant number of countries, including more than two-thirds of European countries over the past year.

"The narrow focus of many eurozone countries on fiscal austerity is deepening the jobs crisis and could even lead to another recession in Europe," he said. "In addition, there is less progress happening in other parts of the world, for example the United States, where progress in reducing unemployment seems to be slowing down and this seems to be a trend," he said.

Labour market recovery has also stalled in Japan, the report said. Employment rates have stagnated or "double-dipped" in China, India and Saudi Arabia, while Latin America is healthier, marked by improvements in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. (Reuters)

"The report clearly points to the combination of austerity measures with ill-conceived labour market reforms as the real cause for deterioration happening in Europe, and little by little spreading to other parts of the world," Torres said.

The EU, which generates about a fifth of global output, has struggled to strike a balance between austerity and growth as it seeks to overcome a decade of runaway spending while grappling with recession.

Only six advanced economies have seen employment rates grow since 2007: Austria, Germany, Israel, Luxembourg, Malta and Poland. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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