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UN report: Global employment picture uneven

The global employment picture is "uneven," with the middle class in many of the world's advanced economies shrinking even as the income gap in those nations is widening, according to a UN report on global employment.

And the economies of many developing nations are faring better than their richer counterparts five years after the 2008 global economic crisis, according to the International Labor Organization's 133-page report, "World of Work Report 2013: Repairing the Economic and Social Fabric," which was released Monday.

"These figures present a positive development in many parts of the developing world, but paint a disturbing picture in many high-income countries, despite the economic recovery," said Guy Ryder, director-general of the UN International Labor Organization.

"We need a global recovery focused on jobs and productive investment, combined with better social protection for the poorest and most vulnerable groups. And we need to pay serious attention to closing the inequality gap that is widening in so many parts of the world."

Calling the global employment situation "uneven," the report found that "In emerging and developing economies, labor markets have started to recover -- in some cases quite rapidly."

The report highlighted Colombia and Chile as positive examples. Those countries' annual employment growth averaged 3.5 percent between the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2012.

As many as 13 emerging and developing economies had exceeded their employment rates before the financial crisis by the end of 2012 by 2.1 percentage points. The researchers found an expanding middle class in developing countries, a result, they said, of a rise in minimum wages.

"Yet, even these countries face the challenge of ensuring that enough decent jobs are created to accommodate the strong growth in the working-age population," the report said.

It said that over 30 million jobs are needed to reach the pre-crisis level.

The 55.7 percent global employment rate in the last quarter of 2012 is 0.9 percentage points lower than before the crisis began in the fourth quarter of 2007, which amounts to about 14 million fewer jobs, the report said.

In addition, another 16.7 million jobs will be needed to absorb "the young people who will reach working age in 2013."

It said that: "Employment rates (the proportion of people of working age who have a job) exceed pre-crisis levels in 30 percent of the countries analysed. In 37 percent of the countries, employment rates have increased in recent years, but not enough to return to the pre-crisis situation, while in the remaining 33 percent of countries, employment rates have continued to decline."

Global unemployment is still 0.5 percentage points above pre-crisis levels, at 5.9 percent, the report said, adding that global unemployment started to rise again in late 2011 and increased by more than 3 million people during 2012 to 195.4 million people.

That number is expected to rise to 6 percent in 2013 and swell to around 205 million unemployed people in 2014. And there will be 214 million people looking for work in 2018, the report said.

In 14 of the 26 nations studied with advanced economies, including the United States, income inequalities rose between 2010 and 2011. It added that income inequality levels in seven of the other 12 countries were still higher than they were before the start of the crisis.

It added that executive pay in some advanced economies had returned to pre-crisis levels, with chief executive officers outpacing their average employees' compensation by orders of magnitude.

"In the United States, average CEO pay among the largest firms grew by 10 percent (between 2007 and 2011) and in 2011 was 508 times larger than compensation of the average employee," said the report.

"In both the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, at 69 and 228 times average employee compensation, respectively, average CEO earnings in 2011 had returned to levels comparable to 2007."


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