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Global unemployment rate to ‘rise modestly’ in 2024

Two million people anticipated to join job seekers.

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The global unemployment rate dropped to 5.1% in 2023.
The report also issued a warning about the persistence of working poverty.
The jobs gap rate was higher for lower-income nations at 20.5%.

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The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is cautioning that the global unemployment rate may increase in 2024, reversing its decline to pre-pandemic levels in 2023.

According to the ILO’s World Employment and Social Outlook Trends: 2024 (WESO Trends), the global unemployment rate dropped to 5.1% in 2023, down from 5.3% in 2022, despite an economic slowdown. The report acknowledged that global growth in 2023 exceeded expectations modestly, and labour markets demonstrated unexpected resilience. However, it also forewarned that two million people are anticipated to seek employment in 2024, potentially elevating the global unemployment rate to 5.2%.

“Unemployment is projected to increase modestly in 2024 as labour force participation rates decrease and employment growth decelerates, resulting in a two million rise in global unemployment,” stated the WESO Trends.

Global Jobs Gap

The WESO Trends revealed that the global jobs gap, representing individuals without employment seeking jobs, decreased to pre-pandemic levels. Despite this improvement, the report noted that the global jobs gap remained high at nearly 435 million in 2023.

“The global jobs gap saw improvements in 2023, but, at close to 435 million, remained elevated,” the report stated. Additionally, the jobs gap rate was higher for lower-income nations at 20.5% in 2023, compared to 8.2% in higher-income countries.

Persistent Working Poverty

The report also issued a warning about the persistence of working poverty. In 2023, the number of workers living in extreme poverty increased by approximately one million, while those in moderate poverty rose by 8.4 million.

ILO Director-General Gilbert Houngbo emphasised that the report indicates these imbalances are not merely a result of pandemic recovery but are structural in nature. He stated, “The workforce challenges it detects pose a threat to both individual livelihoods and businesses, and it is essential that we tackle them effectively and fast.” Houngbo added that falling living standards, weak productivity, and persistent inflation create conditions for greater inequality, undermining efforts to achieve social justice.

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