By Bella Conte

Though the global unemployment rate in 2023 was lower than when the pandemic started, this year, the number of jobless people is set to increase by two million.

This is according to the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s World Employment and Social Outlook Trends:2024 report.

In this regard, a recent report from the World Bank Report suggests that the global economy is on a trajectory towards its slowest half-decade of growth in three decades. This contributes to the uncertain outlook for the job market.

The ILO report underscores that a majority of the world’s wealthiest nations have seen a decline in living standards due to inflation, which is now diminishing in several major economies. The erosion of living standards caused by inflation, as highlighted by the United Nations’ agency, is unlikely to be swiftly compensated.

ILO specialists emphasize significant disparities between higher and lower-income nations. In 2023, the jobs gap rate was over eight percent in wealthier nations compared to over 20 percent in economically disadvantaged countries.

Similarly, the unemployment rate in 2023 was over four percent for affluent countries and nearly six percent for those with lower incomes.

Gilbert Houngbo, the Director-General of the ILO, cautions that declining living standards, weak productivity, and ongoing inflation create conditions for heightened inequality, hindering efforts towards achieving social justice.

He advocates for rapid and effective actions to address workforce challenges, emphasizing the imperative need for social justice for a sustainable recovery.

Despite a swift decline post-2020, the number of individuals living in extreme poverty (earning less than US$2.15 per person per day) increased by about a million in 2023. Income inequality has broadened, presenting obstacles to a sustained economic recovery, the report says.

Additionally, though there are initiatives targeting the informal economy, informal employment is projected to remain constant, making up approximately 58 percent of the global workforce in 2024.

The uneven recovery post-pandemic, as outlined in the ILO report, indicates that despite the World Health Organization (WHO) terminating the COVID-19 public health emergency, aftershocks persist, and that residual symptoms and health issues for those who experienced ‘long COVID’ impact productivity.

Moreover, re-entering the labor market post-pandemic often involves reduced working hours, with a significant increase in sick days taken.

According to the report, although women’s participation in the job market has swiftly rebounded, a noticeable gender gap endures, particularly in emerging and developing nations, and youth unemployment rates continue to present a challenge.

Despite technological advancements and increased investments, the report underscores a persistent deceleration in productivity growth.