Global Employment Trends for Youth: Special Issue on the Impact of the Global Crisis on Youth

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Some 81 million young people around the world were unemployed last year, accounting for 13 percent of people aged 15 to 24, according to this new study. That’s the highest rate since the ILO began making estimates in 2004.

This is the fourth in a series of ILO reports addressing the vulnerability of young people to the effects of the economic crisis, such as unemployment and poverty. It incorporates the most recent labor market data available to that of the three previous reports – published biannually beginning in 2004 – to assess trends in the economy as they pertain to working youth.

The youth unemployment rate increased from 12.8 percent in 2008, and is expected to rise again in this year and in 2011, the ILO says. It says the adult unemployment rate last year was about 5 percent.

The study divides the world into nine regions: Developed Economies and European Union, Central and South-Eastern Europe, East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

In poor countries, the report says, youth tend to lack two important assets to finding employment: job-seeking experience and support systems that can economically provide for them during their searches. As a result, they will likely jump to any position that becomes available – often those that offer low wages, poor working conditions and short hours, because they cannot afford to be unemployed.

Nearly 152 million youth remain in extreme poverty (living on less than $1.25 per day) despite working such jobs, the report says.

South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa particularly embody this dynamic. Niney percent of the world’s youth live in these poor societies, the report noted, likely prolonging the presence of “working poverty” by at least one more generation.

The report highlights certain social barriers preventing youth from employment, such as limited privileges for female youth in parts of Middle East, and higher education rates in the United Kingdom, the latter of which makes the employment pool increasingly competitive.

The ILO is a tripartite United Nations agency headquarters is located in Geneva, Switzerland.

Free, 87 pages. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_emp/---emp_elm/---trends/documents/publication/wcms_143349.pdf.