Wanted: more jobs


, by Frontline

The annual report of the International Institute for Labour Studies projects a grim future for employment prospects.

With the United States and much of Europe grappling with the slowdown in their economies and the resultant social unrest, the publication of the World of Work Report 2011: Making Markets Work for Jobs could not have come at a more opportune moment. Brought out by the International Institute for Labour Studies, which was established in 1960 by the International Labour Organisation, the report projects a grim future for employment prospects.

Quality employment growth remained weak throughout 2009-10, with temporary jobs dominating employment growth in advanced economies. The debt crisis in Greece fuelled by austerity measures and cutbacks and the “we are the 99 per cent” protests in the U.S., despite its national jobs plan, exemplify in a sense the nature of the current crisis. Jobs have to be put back on the global agenda and the responsibility for doing so lies with national governments, asserts the report.

The situation since the collapse of the investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2008 has taken a turn for the worse despite some initial signs of recovery. The difference is that in 2008-09, the early years of the recessionary phase, there was an attempt to coordinate policies, especially among the G20 nations. Countries are now increasingly acting in isolation, which leads to more restrictive policies and the pressure of greater competitiveness. The overall impact of this, coupled with restricted demand and reduced household consumption, has been to squeeze labour in every conceivable manner. And labour in turn has become pessimistic about employment and wage prospects. The report says that not enough attention has been paid to jobs as a key driver of recovery and more importance has been given to appeasing financial markets, to fiscal austerity and to finding ways to help banks without reforming the processes that led to the present crisis. More often than not, employment policies are examined through a fiscal lens, says the report.

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