Occupational risk The global jobs emergency Richard L. Trumka President, AFL-CIO; President, Trade Union Advisory Council to the OECD (TUAC)
Ahead of the Cannes G20 Summit in November 2011, both the International Monetary Fund and the OECD significantly lowered their forecasts for global growth. They estimated that 21 million jobs must be created each year merely to return to pre-crisis employment rates by 2015. The current global growth is far too weak to deliver this rate of jobs growth.
The latest phase of the economic crisis presents a dilemma: many governments judge it necessary to enter a phase of fiscal austerity while unemployment remains intolerably high, a high risk combination. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka calls for a different way forward. In the summer of 2011, the global economy entered a dangerous new phase as growth slowed in virtually all countries, the recovery stalled in advanced countries and new financial risks emerged, particularly in Europe. Meanwhile, over 200 million workers remained unemployed globally, 27 million more than when the 2008 crisis began. The ongoing crisis now threatens to push some 84 million workers into extreme poverty.
Slowing growth, rising unemployment, and growing poverty and inequality threaten the recovery, weaken long-term potential growth, and significantly raise the risk of social unrest and political instability
Given the current jobs emergency, governments cannot implement draconian austerity measures at the expense of funding employment creation and social protection programmes. Every country must have a medium-term plan for fiscal balance, and some countries must take immediate action. But many countries have fiscal space to put our citizens back to work and reduce national debt burdens by bolstering growth. The rise in unemployment caused by the crisis has hit young people particularly hard. Together with long-term unemployment, high youth unemployment threatens to permanently weaken countries’ long-term growth potential. Not only is stronger growth necessary for job creation, expanding employment is now necessary for sustaining the recovery and bolstering long-term growth.
Slowing growth, rising unemployment, and growing poverty and inequality threaten the recovery, weaken long-term potential growth, and significantly raise the risk of social unrest and political instability. Along with the European debt crisis, unemployment now represents the largest single threat to recovery.
Global unions are calling on world leaders—at the national level and in global forums—to react boldly to a faltering global recovery and send a strong message of confidence to working families by breaking the vicious cycle of job insecurity, depressed wages and eroding social protection.
In the US alone, 25 million workers are currently unemployed or looking for full-time employment. One out of every five men of working-age in the US is currently not working: they are either unemployed or out of the labour force. The lack of jobs, together with stagnant wages, has left real earnings for men 28% below their 1969 level. And, household incomes have declined nearly 10% since the crisis began. Economic inequality is now at levels not seen since just before the Great Depression.
At the Cannes G20 Summit, we asked leaders to adopt a four-point plan for jobs and recovery that not only sustains the recovery and stems the immediate jobs crisis, but shapes a post-crisis world that is economically stronger, more balanced, and more just and sustainable. In the first point of the plan, we called on leaders to fulfil their Pittsburgh commitment to “put quality jobs at the heart of the recovery” by establishing differentiated, but coordinated, employment targets for all G20 countries as
OECD Yearbook 2012 © OECD 2012
2012 OECD Yearbook