Creating decent work for all should be at the centre of policymaking – UN report
Governments should make the promotion of employment and decent work the cornerstone of their economic and social policies, according to a report launched today at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
“Employment and decent work need to be not a by-product but a central objective of development strategies,” said Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang at a press briefing to mark the launch of Report of the World Social Situation 2007: The Employment Imperative.
“We see a number of worrisome trends,” Mr. Sha said. “Globally, despite robust rates of economic growth, employment creation is lagging behind growth of the working-age population. From 1996 to 2006, global output expanded by 3.8 per cent per year, yet unemployment rates increased from 6 to 6.3 per cent. Economic growth and job growth are not trending together, to the detriment of our societies and citizens.”
Meanwhile, employment conditions are getting worse, he said. “There is a greater economic insecurity for most workers and greater levels of most forms of inequality in society. Workers with low education and low skills have been hit particularly hard,” and “macroeconomic and social policies have not been successful in lowering unemployment rates to desirable levels.”
Johan Schölvinck, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development, said “the report finds employment increasingly dominated by the service sector, with a global trend towards informal and casual forms of employment.
“Economic liberalization has not necessarily stimulated economic growth, as policy-makers had hoped for,” he added. “Rather, volatility in macroeconomic performance and employment has increased as a result of economic reforms, especially those relating to international trade and financial liberalization.”
At the same time, emphasis on fiscal prudence led to general reductions in public expenditures aimed a promoting growth and employment, further exacerbating job insecurity.
Income distribution has shifted towards capital at the expense of labour, Mr. Schölvinck noted, creating wage differentials that contributed to raising inequality. Thus “redistributive policies should be implemented to expand access to productive assets and employment opportunities.”
With public health care on the retreat and pensions and social benefits under pressure, “a consensus is emerging that the state should take the responsibility to establish a universal minimal level of social protection.”