2011 Dec 08
December 8, 2011

Asia not immune to global crisis: ILO

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Asia’s economic performance remains positive, but there are signs of slowing growth, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said in its latest Asia-Pacific Labour Market Update. The organisation urges Asian governments to base their strategies on job creation, social inclusion and better regional integration.

“The global outlook is increasingly uncertain. Asia will not be immune from turbulence and weak demand. While the region’s economic performance remains positive – in some countries impressively so – there are signs of slowing growth, with economic and social vulnerabilities appearing in both industrialised and developing Asia,” the report released last month says.

ILO called on the region to not lose the economic and social gains it has made lately and to pay a special attention to youth. “Policy makers must base their strategies to reinvigorate economic growth on job creation, social inclusion and better regional integration.”

“Young people require particular attention; youth unemployment is disproportionately high, yet renewed economic growth will depend on their skills, drive and talent for innovation,” the international body stressed.

ILO Regional Director for Asia Pacific, Sachiko Yamamoto, said recently that in spite of being the world’s most dynamic region economically, Asia-Pacific people are not getting enough jobs and decent work out of this growth.

“Most developing economies in the region have working-age populations that are growing fast but often we only see 1-2 percent employment growth for 6-7 percent of output growth. So if output growth drops below 6 percent the region will not be producing enough jobs to meet the needs of those looking for work, particularly young people,” she said.

“Even before the current turmoil this growth was unevenly shared and inequalities were increasing. This inequality threatens economic and social progress if it is not addressed,” the expert added.

Green jobs and industries are one area of opportunity, according to ILO. It called on enterprises to speed up the shift towards a low-carbon, sustainable development path.

Men’s market

The organisation calls on Asian nations to not waste the progress also made on tackling gender inequalities. The report shows that women continue to face barriers in the labour market, especially in Indonesia, Korea and Pakistan.

Indonesia, Korea and Pakistan face “wide gaps” in both economic participation and earnings. In Pakistan the difference in labour force participation is of 33.7 percentage points and 45 percent in wages, the highest for both indicators among the region.

On the contrary, in Thailand, Mongolia and Vietnam the male-female gaps in both earnings and economic activity are relatively lower. In Singapore, New Zealand and Australia gender disparities were also comparatively lower when looking at economic activity rates but considerably more pronounced in terms of wage differentials.

ILO also warned that the region’s informal economy remains massive and suggests that governments look at extending affordable social protection in order to address the future needs of an ageing population.

“Asia is ageing rapidly, particularly in the more industrialised economies,” the report says.

By 2030 the old-age dependency ratio – percentage of elderly in comparison with working-age – is projected to spike to 52.9 percent in Japan and more than 30 percent in Singapore, Korea, New Zealand and Australia. The middle-income countries of Thailand, China and Sri Lanka will also face tremendous demographic pressures.

ILO says that “tripartite action is essential to support the necessary economic structural changes related to a ‘greying’ population”. This includes appropriate skills policies, nurturing life-long learning and creating effective incentives that will increase labour force participation among women and the elderly, through delayed retirement. –http://www.macaudailytimes.com.mo/macau/32205-Asia-not-immune-global-crisis-ILO.html