Unemployment in South Asia at 5.4 per cent

Kathmandu, January 21

The unemployment rate in South Asia was the highest in Asia at 5.4 per cent and the rate for the entire Asian region stood at 4.4 per cent in 2019.

As per a report titled ‘World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2020’ (WESO) released by the International Labour Organisation yesterday, Asia and the Pacific continues to have the highest employment-to-population ratio worldwide. South Asia had the highest unemployment rate of 5.4 per cent, followed by East Asia at 4.1 per cent and South-East Asia and the Pacific at 3.1 per cent.

“Poor job quality and high rates of informality exacerbate existing income and wealth inequalities.

Despite the region’s rapid economic progress over the past decades, 356 million workers, or 18.8 per cent were still living in poverty in 2019,” the report stated.

The report states that nonetheless, Asia and the Pacific remains the fastest-growing region in the world. In the near future, lingering intra-regional and regional trade tensions are expected to result in projected growth rates in all sub-regions that are significantly below the averages of the past decade.

A lack of decent work combined with rising unemployment and persisting inequality is making it increasingly difficult for people to build better lives through their work, report further states, adding almost half a billion people are working fewer paid hours than they would like or lack adequate access to paid work.

In addition, the report shows that unemployment is projected to increase by around 2.5 million in 2020. Global unemployment has been roughly stable for the last nine years, but slowing global economic growth means that, as the global labour force increases, not enough new jobs are being generated to absorb new entrants to the labour market.

The report shows that the mismatch between labour supply and demand extends beyond unemployment into broader labour underutilisation. In addition to the global number of unemployed (188 million), 165 million people don’t have enough paid work and 120 million have either given up actively searching for work or otherwise lack access to the labour market. In total, more than 470 million people worldwide are affected.

The report cautions that intensifying trade restrictions and protectionism could have a significant impact on employment, both directly and indirectly.