Asia, the Pacific and Arab States: The world of work in numbers

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder presented his report entitled “Building an inclusive future with decent work: Towards sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific,” at the 16th Asia and the Pacific Meeting (APRM) in Bali, Indonesia last month. At an APRM plenary sitting, the ILO’s Regional Director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat summarized the main findings of the report in this presentation of data and info-graphic slides.

Analysis | 20 December 2016
ILO Regional Office for Arab States Director gives a presenation on decent work at the 16th Asia and the Pacific Meeting (APRM) in Bali, Indonesia.

Much progress was achieved in the Asian Decent Work Decade from 2016-2016…

  • Since 2006, the region has achieved significant strides towards fulfilling the Asian Decent Work Agenda.
  • In the last 10 years, we saw a 5.3% annual increase in productivity. This, in turn, led to 4.2% annual growth in real wages.
  • In the past decade, the region succeeded in lifting 180 million workers out of poverty. Furthermore, 60 million workers were placed in secure, wage-paying jobs and are no longer in vulnerable employment.
  • This growth translated into a stronger regional middle class. Around half the region’s workers and their families are now classified as middle class or above.

But unfinished business remains…

Despite these achievements, we still have some unfinished business.

The region still has:
  • 192 million workers in extreme poverty.   
  • over 1 billion workers in vulnerable employment.
  • only 47% of women in the labour force compared to 79% of men 90 million people looking for work.
  • 78 million children in  child labour.
  • 11.5 million people in forced labour.
  • 1 in 8 young people looking for work.
  • Moreover, we still need to work to ensure that international labour standards are ratified and implemented in the region. Today, only 14 member States have ratified all the fundamental conventions of the ILO.
  • These are some of the issues that we, as a region, still have to address in order to achieve the goal of Decent Work for all.

The risk of maintaining the status quo…

  • The challenges we face require a change of course from our current policy paradigm.
  • In the next 15 years, current policies translate to 0.8% annual growth in employment.
  • This growth is not sufficient; the unemployed are expected to amount to 94 million 2030 compared to 90 million today.
  • We, as a region, cannot afford today’s levels of gender inequality.
  • If the policies to today persist, the gap in gender participation in the labour force is expected to increase to 32.4 percentage points in 2020.
  • Women’s labour force participation rate for the region as a whole is projected to decline in the next 15 years from 47 to 44 per cent.
  • Men’s labour force participation rate will reach 89.2% in 2020 compared to 45.89% for women.
  • There are other gender gaps that we need to address. For example, the region saw the gap in disposable income between men and women reach 38% in 2013 from 31% in 2000.
  • If we don’t address gender inequality, the region could stand to lose as much as 4.7% of additional economic output.
  • The potential loss is greater in South Asia where foregone output can be as a high as 12.5% or in the Arab States were the foregone output can be as high as 11.4%.
  • Finally, our regional trends regarding social protection are not sustainable.
  • The region’s elderly population will increase to reach 10.% of the population in 2020 compared to 7.5% today.
  • This, in turn, is coupled with low social protection expenditure of 5.3% of GDP in the region compared to the world average of 8.6%.

In Conclusion…

  • We can reflect positively on the progress we achieved in the Asian Decent Work Decade. However, there are significant challenges that remain for us to work together and solve.
  • The work ahead of the ILO and its tripartite constituents must focus on strengthening the impact of our work so that the gains of the past decade are capitalized on to address the challenges of the future.