ILO – 75% of world jobs insecure

Written By: - Date published: 12:44 pm, May 20th, 2015 - 8 comments
Categories: Economy, employment, equality, jobs, labour, unemployment, wages - Tags:

Only a quarter of the world’s workers have permanent jobs. A worldwide trend away from secure jobs risked “perpetuating a vicious circle of weak global demand and slow job creation” that has dogged many countries since the crisis, the UN agency said.


You can read the summary report here. Among other things it says:

A worldwide trend away from secure jobs risked “perpetuating a vicious circle of weak global demand and slow job creation” that has dogged many countries since the crisis, the UN agency said.


The ongoing transformation in the employment relationship is having important economic and social
repercussions. It contributes to the growing divergence between labour incomes and productivity,
with the latter growing faster than wages in much of the world. This, in turn, has resulted in a
shortage of aggregate demand that has stubbornly persisted throughout the years since the crisis.
This report estimates the loss in global demand at $3.7 trillion as a result of unemployment, lagging
labour incomes and their effects on consumption, investment and government revenue.

In addition, the change in the employment relationship may be fuelling income inequalities
(Chapter 2). Although the evidence is mixed across countries, on average the standard form of
employment is better remunerated than other types of work – and the gap has tended to widen over
the past decade. Temporary and informal workers, part-time workers and unpaid family workers,
many of whom are women, are also disproportionately affected by poverty and social exclusion.

$3.7 trillion loss of demand is serious money. The report suggests:

As a consequence, public policies should not focus solely on promoting transitions from nonstandard
arrangements to permanent, full-time, dependent employment. Consideration should
also be given to ensure that adequate protection is in place for workers in all types of employment.

Existing regulations should be revisited to take into account the changing patterns of work. As shown in the report, a number of countries have made substantial progress in this regard and offer possible blueprints for that progress. through measures such as creating new contributory categories, simplifying registration and tax collection processes and subsidizing contributions to social protection systems. For instance, in Argentina, Brazil, China and South Africa, innovative forms of social protection have helped to improve income security for workers in vulnerable employment situations.

Plenty of ammunition here for Labour’s “Future of Work” study. And for thought and debate on the way to the final revelation of its policy.


8 comments on “ILO – 75% of world jobs insecure”

  1. Colonial Rawshark 1

    Lower consumer demand means less coal and oil burnt. Surely a good thing. A reduction in global demand of $3.7T is equivalent to many billions of tonnes of coal and oil left unburnt. Surely a good thing.

    • b waghorn 1.1

      While It would be good thing to be burning a lot less coal it would be much better if it was happening because the world has transitioned away from it in a sensible way . So cheering because growing poverty ,instability and inequality is hardly the way forward is it ?

    • Pasupial 1.2


      While I mostly agree that the; “less coal and oil burnt”, the better. You are really reaching to shoehorn that point into this post. Why do you think that poor people having insecure jobs will make the rich burn less fossil fuels? Would more equitable income and job-permanence lead to a greater or lesser global aggregate emissions? It doesn’t seem possible to say based on the info in this post.

      The thing that stands out for me is the inequality of work security across the three income brackets: 76.2% vs 5.7% permanent employment in High income counties vs Low income. Though I will have to look at the linked article to better assess the meaning of those terms.

  2. katipo 2

    National Radio recently interviewed Guy Standing relating to this topic, he calls the ‘The Precariat Class’

    “In sociology and economics, the precariat is a social class formed by people suffering from precarity, …….. Specifically, it is applied to the condition of lack of job security, in other words intermittent employment or underemployment and the resultant precarious existence. The emergence of this class has been ascribed to the entrenchment of neoliberal capitalism.”

  3. miravox 3

    In the western world this dismantling of secure work at the same time as the dismantling of public health, other services and the taxpayer picking up the tab for inadequate wages through income support measures, is a ticking bomb that the mainstream left have not got a handle on yet. I’m hoping, that with a trade union professional at the helm of NZ Labour we may finally see some movement on this.

    Even worse is that for the rest of the world, it’s probably a luxury to be able to think about employment in these terms. A good thing the ILO can remind the western left that reducing precarious work requires an international focus as well as a local one.

  4. Sable 5

    Why is Labour any more likely to cure this problem than National? Their legislation on employment is not that divergent. The Employment Relations Act was just a watered down version of the more toxic Employment Contracts Act. National are slowly creeping back to the old act but its counterpart was pretty shit useless when it came to protecting people too.

    • The ERA was radically different from the ECA. Philosophically, they couldn’t be further apart, with the ECA reducing employment relations to the status of mere commercial contracts, with rights of worker representation and collectivity effectively removed. The ERA, on the other hand, is based on a cooperative, good faith model, that puts emphasis on openness, honesty and fair dealing. The right to effective representation and collective bargaining meant that workers actually made reasonable gains in the Clark years. The Key regime has watered down much of the best of the ERA, but it is still a significantly better option for workers than the contracts Act.

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