The United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO), which released its 2017 World Employment and Social Outlook on Thursday, finds economic growth trends lagging behind employment needs and predicts both rising unemployment and worsening social inequality throughout 2017.
"We are facing the twin challenge of repairing the damage caused by the global economic and social crisis and creating quality jobs for the tens of millions of new labour market entrants every year," said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.
According to the report, the global GDP growth reached a six-year low last year, well below the rate that was projected in 2015. Forecasters continue to revise their 2017 predictions downwards and uncertainty about the global economy persists, generating worry among experts that the economy will be unable to employ a sufficient number of people and that growth will not lead to inclusive and shared benefits.
Throughout 2017, global unemployment is expected to rise by 3.4 million. The increase, while a modest 5.7 to 5.8 percent, is due to deteriorating labour market conditions in emerging countries - particularly those in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, unemployment is expected to fall in developed countries - especially in Northern, Southern, and Western Europe, the United States and Canada.
In addition, the figure of 1.4 billion people, who are employed in vulnerable working conditions, is not expected to decrease. That number represents 42 percent of all employment for 2017.
"Almost one in two workers in emerging countries is in vulnerable forms of employment, rising to more than four in five workers in developing countries," said Steven Tobin, ILO Senior Economist and lead author of the report.
The statistic is even worse for emerging countries. Those living in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa are facing the greatest risk.
While the number of people living in poverty has been declining in recent years, the progress rates have begun declining and are expected to continue to diminish in 2017. In developing countries, the rate of poverty is actually increasing.
The report also points out a number of social inequalities that are creating barriers to growth and prosperity. Gender gaps in particular are affecting the labour market. In Northern Africa, women in the labour force are twice as likely as men to be unemployed. That gap is wider still for women in Arab States. As a result of these and other social inequalities across a wide range of demographics, the ILO estimates that the risk of social unrest or discontent is growing in almost all regions.
"Boosting economic growth in an equitable and inclusive manner requires a multi-faceted policy approach that addresses the underlying causes of secular stagnation, such as income inequality, while taking into account country specificities," said Toobin.