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Global youth unemployment to hit new height of 71m

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unemploymentThe ranks of youth that are without jobs worldwide are expected to welcome another fresh half a million this year through 2017, latest report of the International Labour Organisation’s World Employment and Social Outlook 2016 Trends for Youth report shows.The report notes that this is the first increment in the last three years, just as it puts the age bracket of youth to between 16 and 24 years.

According to the estimates of the report, the global youth unemployment rate is expected to reach 13.1 per cent in 2016, and remained at that level through to 2017, up from 12.9 per cent in 2015.

The report indicates that as a result, the global number of unemployed youth is set to rise by half a million this year to reach 71 million, which is the first of such increase in three years.The report states that of greater concern is the share and number of young people, often in emerging and developing countries, who live in extreme or moderate poverty despite having a job. In fact, 156 million or 37.7 per cent of working youth are in extreme or moderate poverty compared to 26 per cent of working adults.

The World Employment and Social Outlook 2016 Trends for Youth, defined the working poverty rate as the share of employed population in extreme or moderate poverty, i.e. with per capita income or consumption of less than US$3.10 per day. In her response to the findings of the report, the ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy, Deborah Greenfield, said: “The alarming rise in youth unemployment and the equally disturbing high levels of young people who work but still live in poverty show how difficult it will be to reach the global goal to end poverty by 2030, unless we redouble our efforts to achieve sustainable economic growth and decent work. This research also highlights wide disparities between young women and men in the labour market that need to be addressed by ILO member states and the social partners urgently.”

The report finds that there are wide disparities that exist between young women and men, underpinning and giving rise to wider gaps during the transition to adulthood. In 2016, for instance, the labour force participation rate for young men stands at 53.9 per cent compared to 37.3 per cent for young women – representing a gap of 16.6 percentage points.

The challenge is particularly acute in Southern Asia, the Arab States and Northern Africa, where female youth participation rates are, respectively, 32.9, 32.3 and 30.2 percentage points lower than those of male youth in 2016.

Indeed, the report notes that unemployment increases are driven by the slowdown in emerging economies saying global economic growth in 2016 is estimated to stand at 3.2 per cent, 0.4 percentage points lower than the figure predicted in late 2015.On his part, the ILO Senior Economist and lead author of the report, Steven Tobin, said: “This is driven by a deeper than expected recession in some key emerging commodity-exporting countries and stagnating growth in some developed countries. The rise in youth unemployment rates is particularly marked in emerging countries.”

The report also finds that in emerging countries, the unemployment rate is predicted to rise from 13.3 per cent in 2015 to 13.7 per cent in 2017 (a figure which corresponds to 53.5 million unemployed in 2017 compared to 52.9 million in 2015).It further notes that the poor quality of employment continues to disproportionately affect youth, albeit with considerable regional differences. For example, Sub- Saharan Africa continues to suffer the highest youth working poverty rates globally, at almost 70 per cent.

Working poverty rates among young people are also elevated in Arab States (39 per cent) and Southern Asia (49 per cent).In developed economies, there is growing evidence of a shift in the age distribution of poverty, with youth taking the place of the elderly as the group at highest risk of poverty (defined for developed economies as earning less than 60 per cent of the median income). For instance, in 2014, the share of young workers in the EU-28 categorised as being at a high risk of poverty was 12.9 per cent compared to 9.6 per cent of prime-age workers (aged 25–54). The challenge is particularly acute in some countries where the at-risk-of-poverty for young workers exceeds 20 per cent.

One of the highlights of the report is the willingness of youths to migrate.Among the many reasons to migrate (e.g. armed conflicts, natural disasters, etc.) an elevated unemployment rate, increased susceptibility to working poverty and a lack of good quality job opportunities are key factors shaping young people’s decision to migrate abroad permanently.

Globally, the share of young people who are willing to move permanently to another country stood at 20 per cent in 2015. The highest inclination to move abroad, at 38 per cent, is found in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean, followed closely by Eastern Europe at 37 per cent.
Concerning Africa, the report finds that the incidence of unemployment among youth in Northern Africa remains elevated at 29.3 per cent in 2016, representing the second highest rate across all regions.

While the youth labour force participation rate is the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa at 54.2 per cent, the region’s enrolment rates in secondary and tertiary education is the lowest among all regions.

Working poverty rates among youth in Sub-Saharan Africa is nearly 70 per cent in 2016, translating to 64.4 million working youth in that region living in extreme or moderate poverty (less than $3.10 per day).

Youth in Africa demonstrate higher willingness to move permanently to another country: 38 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa and 35 per cent in Northern Africa in 2015 (globally the figures stands at 20 per cent).


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