Based on the latest available data, the ILO report, 2018 Asia-Pacific Social and Work Opportunities: Advancing Decent Work for Sustainable Development (APESO) (Labor and Social Issues in the 2018 Asia-Pacific: Promoting Decent Work for Sustainable Development) highlighting the problem of the labor market in the most densely populated regions of the world.
According to the first edition of APESO, if the regional unemployment rate is projected to remain at 4.1 percent during 2020, the vulnerable employment rate is expected to increase to 49 percent, reversing the observed trend for at least twenty years.
While the Asia-Pacific region has made rapid progress in dramatically reducing extreme poverty, one in four workers in the region – 446 million workers – still live in extreme poverty or moderate in 2017 and almost half of the Workforce – 930 million people – continue to look for income from irregular employment, entrepreneurship or unpaid family work.
"In this region, a high ratio of labor and productivity gains covers a decent and worrying job deficit. Many people, especially in developing countries in the region, still have no choice but to accept jobs with poor working conditions, which do not produce income that is stable or preserving it. and their families, from long-term poverty, "said Sara Elder, lead author of the report and Head of the ILO Regional Economic and Social Analysis Unit.
"What is frustrating is that even though there are significant economic benefits in the region, there are still many workers who struggle to meet the needs of any crisis affecting the family – accident or death of a breadwinner, job loss, natural disasters, bad harvests etc. – threatened to make him fall back into poverty.
Facts and figures
- With 1.9 billion workers – 1.2 billion men and 700 million women – the Asia-Pacific region accounts for 60 percent of the global workforce in 2017.
- The Asia-Pacific region is home to the largest number of people working, relative to the working age population. The ratio of employment to population is 59.7 percent, compared to 58.6 percent in the whole world.
- More than two out of three workers were employed in the informal sector in 2016, which is closely related to 48.6 percent of workers who are still in the vulnerable job category. The level of informal employment is very high in South Asia, where almost 88 percent of workers are employed informally.
- In the region, a large number of workers, especially those who work for low fees, work more than 48 hours a week. In 2017, the average working hours in South and East Asia were the highest in the world at 46.4 and 46.3 hours respectively. In East Asia, almost one in five workers work out 60 hours per week.
- The regional unemployment rate of 4.1 percent is the lowest in the world and far below the global level of 5.5 percent in 2017. While the global unemployment rate has remained stable since 2015, the rate for Asia-Pacific slightly increased by 0.1 percentage points. In total, 80.9 million people are unemployed in Asia and the Pacific in 2018.
- At 10.4 percent, the youth unemployment rate has remained unchanged since 2015, while the global level has increased to 12.6 percent. In the region, 35 percent of the unemployed are young (ages 15 to 24 years), while young people are only 20 percent of the working age population.
- The unemployment rate is higher among people with secondary education, which seems to confirm the continued "erosion" of moderate-skilled jobs in developing countries, especially because advances in technology, information and communication technology reduce the demand for workers doing routine tasks .
- The gap between men and women in the world of work is a matter of great concern. The participation rate for men is 30 percent higher than that for women in 2017, down just 1 percentage point since 2000.
- Structural changes have been very pronounced in this region, with a shift in employment from agriculture to services primarily and, to a lesser extent, to industry. Most losses in agriculture are offset by higher employment in the service sector, where 740 million jobs have been created since 2000. Manufacturing jobs edged down from the mid-2000s, with more jobs lost for women than for men.
Handle the source of concern
According to the report, the recent threat to renewed trade protection has had an impact on investment in the manufacturing sector, which for many workers in the region is their only source of income and, for women, is often their first source of income. get into a paid job.
The report also shows that demographic trends, in particular the impact of the elderly, burden more on the already limited social protection system and question the increase in labor productivity in the future. At the same time, continued adaptation to technological developments can disrupt the flow of work, especially for workers with intermediate skills. In addition, environmental degradation, depletion of natural resources and increasing incidence of climate-related natural disasters create uncertainty about future growth trajectories in the region.
"The good performance of the Asia-Pacific region in terms of economic growth has been good for some, but too much has been left behind," said Tomoko Nishimoto, ILO Assistant Director General and Regional Director for Asia. and the Pacific. "The remaining deficit of decent work is a serious warning about the ability of regions to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda, specifically Goal 8 on growth and sustainable and sharing work, and livelihoods. Decent work for all".
The report shows that the development path of most countries in the region is not sufficient to address decent work deficits. When labor market governance is weak, a decent work deficit continues, despite strong growth in the region.
A separate report that focuses on labor market policies in ASEAN countries (see box) reaches the same conclusions that are partly related to it. The report notes that despite progress in expanding the scope of labor market policies since the establishment of the ASEAN Community, there are still significant shortcomings in both the country's policy portfolio and their capacity. to implement labor market policies. The result is a chronic weakness in protecting the most vulnerable workers in the region.
"Most countries in this region are unfortunately still far from the targets of sustainable development related to decent work. We need action on a larger scale, more courageous, wise and fast if countries want to get back on track to fulfill their commitments. All the country will benefit from prioritizing decent work as a mechanism for inclusive growth, "ILO Regional Director Tomoko Nishimoto said
Policies for higher quality jobs are part of ASEAN economic integration
In a separate report – ASEAN Labor Market Inventory 2010-2015: Labor Market Policy in an Enhanced Economic Integration Era – The ILO Research Department, in collaboration with the OECD Development Center and with the support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), analyzes the country's strategic responses ASEAN member countries for structural changes in the economy and labor market in the region.
The study found that the majority of the 500 policies identified in the ILO database, the Power Market Directory II, were intended to improve skills development, strengthen workers' rights (including through non-discrimination and regulations on occupational safety and health) and broaden the scope of social protection policies. .
But this study found a large political gap still exists. In particular, very few policies target the most vulnerable rights in the labor market, namely migrants, minorities and informal workers. Likewise, there are still too few policies regarding unemployment benefits, minimum wages and collective bargaining in ASEAN countries. Very often, progress in labor market policy has been fostered by ASEAN-wide declarations and initiatives, indicating the decisive role that the ASEAN Community can play in the promotion of labor. feasible and promote social justice for all.