600 Million New Jobs Necessary Over 15 Years: World Bank

Failure will leave women and the young jobless, spur unrest, stunt development

The World Bank says that the world’s economy must generate 600 million new jobs during the span of 2005–2020 to give young people work, empower women, stimulate development and quell global unrest.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the World Bank’s pronouncement came as part of its World Development Report, which also said that jobs should be governments’ top priorities, since lack of employment was a major factor in the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings that resulted in new leadership. Economics was not the only factor to be considered, the report also said, since the effects of employment reach beyond the economics involved.

In the report’s foreword, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim wrote, “Demographic shifts, technological progress, and the lasting effects of the international financial crisis are reshaping the employment landscape in countries around the world.” He continued, “Countries that successfully adapt to these changes and meet their jobs challenges can achieve dramatic gains in living standards, productivity growth, and more cohesive societies.”

Currently, according to the report, there are 1.6 billion people who work for a wage or salary, and 1.5 billion who either farm or are self-employed. In some areas of the world, participation in the labor market by women is problematic, such as in Pakistan, where only 28% of women work.

Youth participation in the labor market is challenging globally, with 621 million youths neither holding a job nor going to school. At the same time, child labor continues to be a problem, with 115 million children working at hazardous jobs.

The need for new jobs will be greatest in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa—in the latter region, 10 million people a year enter the labor force—but by 2020 the global economy will need 600 million more jobs than it did in 2005. Should employment opportunities not come about for all the people in need of work, consequences could be dire. The report said, “Youth may turn to gangs to compensate for the absence of identity and belonging that a job might provide.”

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