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UNCTAD Report Underscores Gap Between Economic Growth & Employment

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 20 2013 (IPS) - About 12 percent of the world’s population is witnessing a growing gap between economic growth (seven percent every year) and employment growth (almost three percent every year) in the 49 Least Developed Countries (LDCs), according to 2013 LDCs Report “Growth with Employment for Sustainable Development ” launched by the UN  Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

diarione “Such higher rate has never been seen in economic development, in any of category of countries which we deal with,” said Mussie Delelegn, Officer-in-Charge of UNCTAD.

He said “job creation should be at the front and center of the employment policies and strategies in LDCs.”  All 49 LDCs  have the lowest income, weakest human resources and are most likely to be exposed to economic vulnerability.

According to the study, demographic patterns, persistent poverty, accelerated urbanization and rising inequalities made remunerative employment difficult .  Population in LDCs is projected to double to 1.7 billion by 2050, the youth population (aged 15 to 24 years) is expected to rise from 168 million in 2010 to 300 million by 2050, when one in four youths worldwide will live in a LDC. An average of 16 million jobs will be needed every year with working-age populatin soaring between 2010-2050.

With population growing rapidly and urbanization rising at an alarming pace, Delelegn said there will pressure put on natural resources and rural-urban migration. “The role of agriculture, which is historically the source of employment and livelihood is diminishing over time.”

Even though LDCs have achieved economic growth in the past decade,  it has not been inclusive nor able to reduce poverty.  It has not generated enough quality jobs which could provide people with higher wages and better working conditions, especially for the youth and women. Many are getting by with the provision of temporary, low wage work that doesn’t provide health insurance.

The report suggests that governments in LDCs should kick-start the growh process by providing quality jobs for youth and women, and develop productive capacities through investment-growth-employment nexus, in which investment should be the critical entry point.

Women in LDCs have been proved to have a higher propensity to work in the labour market — around 80 percent as opposed to the  30 percent of men. Between 1990 and 2012, an estimated 290 million women entered the LDC labour force and increased the  paricipation rates  by three percentage points—from 59 percent to 62 percent on average—a result of their high flexibility to work in the informal sectors (housekeeping, child-rearing, farming, etc.).

Delelegn underscored the importance of international  cooperation in terms of education and training towards workers under the globlization trend.

“The amount that goes to education and to the general public service is minimum. So interntaional support, not only in terms of financing, but in terms of ideas and policies, in terms of advising and in terms of traning the locals is still key. So there is a bigger issue that has to be addressed by national governments themselves and also by international community, whenever it’s necessary,”  he added.

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