Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, February 8:

Half of the world’s workers, some 1.4 billion people, are trapped in grinding poverty unable to earn enough to lift themselves and their families above the $2 a day poverty line, revealed a report.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO’s) report for the year 2004-05 stated that focusing economic policies on creating decent and productive employment opportunities is vital for reducing global poverty as called for in the millennium development goals (MDGs). “Women and men all over the world expect to get a fair chance at a decent job,” ILO director general Juan Somvia was quoted as saying in the report given to The Himalayan Times by United Nations Information Centre (UNIC). “Generating more and better jobs must become the central plan of the global drive to reduce poverty.” The report of ILO also revealed that the 185.9 million people in the world who were unemployed in 2003 represent the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of the decent work deficit, since more than seven times that number of people are employed but still live in poverty.

Some 2.8 billion people were employed globally in 2003, more than ever before. However, of these, nearly 1.4 billion, the highest number ever, are living on less than the equivalent of $2 a day and some 550 million are living on under the $1 a day poverty line. The report states that the actual percentage of working persons living under both the $2 a day and $1 poverty lines is lower today than in 1990, while projected global growth rates may halve $1 working poverty in some areas of the world by the year 2015.

Somavia was quoted as saying in the report supplied by UNIC is that the key to reducing the number of working poor is creating decent and productive employment opportunities and promoting a fairer globalisation as strategies for poverty reduction. The world employment report (WER) 2004-05 breaks new ground with its analysis of the linkages between employment, productivity and poverty reduction. WER 2004-05 argues that the benefits of the productivity gains starts at the enterprise level, with lower costs of production and increased profit and competitiveness, and can continue through to benefit workers in the form of higher earnings and reduced working time.

Ultimately, these benefits impact the macro-economy with lower prices, increased consumption and increased employment, said the report. The report calls for more attention to increase productivity and earnings in agriculture since a larger share of workers in this sector are informally employed and living in poverty. The agricultural sector employs over 40 per cent of developing countries’ workers and contributes over 20 per cent of their GDP, states the report.