A third of the 1.1 billion young people worldwide between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed or have a job bringing less than $2 a day, a report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said on Sunday.
And as the global population swells, the situation is set to get worse, especially in volatile corners of sub-Saharan Africa, South-East Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, according to the report released in Geneva.
“Despite increased economic growth, the inability of economies to create enough decent and productive jobs is hitting the world’s young especially hard,” ILO chief Juan Somavia said.
Figures compiled by the United Nations agency showed that younger people were three times more likely to be unemployed than those over the age of 24 — with 13.5 percent of the total without a job compared with only 4.5 percent of older workers.
According to the report, called “Global Employment Trends for Youth,” young people account for 44 percent of the world’s total unemployed even though they make up only 25 percent of the working-age population.
The overall unemployment rate for youth has been on a steady rise since 1995, climbing from 12.3 percent of the total of job-seekers in 1995 to 13.5 per cent last year.
The report drew no conclusions about political instability arising from the presence in many countries of armies of out-of-work young men, although it said the situation meant governments had to spend more on crime and drug control.
The highest regional unemployment rate among young people was found to be in the Middle East and North Africa, where 25.7 percent of those between 15 and 24 have no work.
Next came Central and Eastern Europe, including countries that emerged from the former Soviet Union like Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine and Russia itself, with 19.9 percent youth unemployment.
In sub-Saharan Africa the rate is 18.1 percent, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean at 16.6 percent, and South-East Asia and the Pacific where it is 15.8 percent, the report said.
In developed economies — including the European Union, the United States, Canada and Japan — youth unemployment stands on average at 13.1 percent. In South Asia including India it is 10 percent, and in East Asia including China, it is 7.8 percent.
The report said the global youth labour force — the sum of employed and unemployed young people — grew by 5.2 percent from 1995 to 2005 — increasing from 602 to 633 million. It is expected to add a further 24 million by 2015.
Even many of those in work do not fare well, the ILO said.
More than 20 percent of employed young people, it found, were “working poor” — or living in a household where the income was less than $1 per head per day, while more than 300 million in work were bringing home just $2 a day or less.