Unemployment and Precarious Employment Grow More Prominent

Michael Renner | Nov 22, 2010


After declining from 2004 to 2007, global unemployment took an upturn in 2008 and then sharply rose to 212 million in 2009.1 For mid-2010, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 210 million people were unemployed.2 This compares with a range of 170–190 million jobless persons during the previous decade.3 The global unemployment rate rose from 5.7 percent in 2007 to 6.6 percent in 2009.4 (See Table 1.)

The total number of people with employment worldwide did rise—from about 2.6 billion in 1999 to roughly 3 billion in 2009—but not enough to keep pace with the growth in the working-age population.5

Governments took a range of steps to counter the impacts of the recent economic crisis, including stimulus packages, job retention measures, and increased reliance on part-time employment. These measures are estimated to have either saved or created some 20 million jobs worldwide.6 Despite such efforts, industrial economies suffered a jump in the unemployment rate of 2.4 percentage points from 2007 to 2009, followed by the countries in Europe that do not belong to the European Union and by the former Soviet Union (2.0 points) and then by Latin America and the Caribbean (1.2 points).7 Other parts of the world saw more limited increases in unemployment rates (0.5 points or less).8


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