[Excerpt] The number of people unemployed worldwide remained at an historical high in 2006 despite strong global economic growth. Even though more people are working globally than ever before, the number of unemployed remained at an all time high of 195.2 million in 2006 or at a global rate of 6.3 per cent. This rate of unemployment rate was almost unchanged from the previous year. This confirmed the trend of the past several years in which robust economic growth has failed to translate into significant reductions in unemployment or poverty among those in work.
The pattern looks set to continue in 2007, with a forecast growth rate of 4.9 per cent likely to ensure that unemployment remains at about last year’s level. The persistence of joblessness at this rate is of concern, given that it will be difficult to sustain such strong economic growth indefinitely. Moreover, while the percentage of working poor in total employment declined in the past ten years, the number of working people living on US$2 a day has continued to grow in absolute numbers, reaching 1.37 billion in 2006. To make long-term inroads into unemployment and working poverty, it is essential that periods of strong growth be better used to generate more decent and productive jobs. Reducing unemployment and working poverty through creation of such jobs should be viewed as a precondition for sustained economic growth.
Some labour market challenges are the same in almost all regions: for example, young people have more difficulties in labour markets than adults and women do not get the same opportunities as men. Other challenges vary between regions, which is why this year’s Global Employment Trends Brief outlines each region’s labour market performance as well as key challenges.