Latin American needs to create 126 million more jobs, UN labor agency says

3 May 2006

Facing an employment deficit of 126 million jobs in the coming decade, Latin America must not only increase its business competitiveness, but also move towards more “employment-rich” growth of the economy, the head of the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) said today.

Facing an employment deficit of 126 million jobs in the coming decade, Latin America must not only increase its business competitiveness, but also move towards more “employment-rich” growth of the economy, the head of the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) said today.

“We have to respond to our citizens' aspirations to decent work for all with specific measures, because that is what they express in every election and expect from democracy,” ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said before the opening today of the Sixteenth American Regional Meeting which opens in Brasilia, Brazil today.

According to recent ILO reports, 23 million people face open unemployment and 103 million work in the informal sector in Latin America, creating an employment deficit in the formal sector of 126 million jobs. This is more than half of the 239 million people who make up the economically active population in the region.

A report submitted to the meeting, entitled “Decent work in the Americas: An Agenda for the Hemisphere, 2006-2015,” warns that this formal work deficit could increase to 158 million by 2015 unless the necessary steps are taken to generate more and better jobs.

That Agenda lists four main challenges to increased employment: ensuring that economic growth promotes employment for all; guaranteeing that labour rights are effectively upheld and respected; adopting new social protection mechanisms suited to current conditions; and using these procedures to combat social exclusion.

The report stresses that labour markets are not at present benefiting as much as was expected from economic growth, saying: “We cannot simply depend on growth to generate employment for those most in need of it and to reduce extreme poverty in the region.”

For that reason, Mr. Somavia argued that "the objective of creating decent work should be explicitly incorporated into national development strategies", including the generation of specific labour policies.

The ILO American Regional Meeting will run through Friday.

 

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