“It is not a good time to be a young person looking for a job,” said Theodore Sparreboom, a senior economist at the International Labour Organization, in a statement introducing the Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013 report. “And the prospects don’t look like they are getting better.”
The global youth unemployment rate is estimated to be at 12.6 percent in 2013, close to its crisis-era peak of 12.7 percent in 2009. By 2018, the rate is expected to have increased to 12.8 percent, with growing regional disparities between advanced and developing economies.
“Behind this worsening figure is an even more worrying picture, revealing persistent unemployment, a proliferation of temporary jobs and growing youth discouragement in advanced economies; and poor quality, informal, subsistence jobs in developing countries,” commented the ILO.
“Unless immediate and vigorous action is taken, the global community confronts the grim legacy of a lost generation,” commented officials in a separate report on youth unemployment in June. “A great deal has been learned about how to address barriers young people face to transition into the labour market, but in many countries ineffective macroeconomic and other policies have not delivered enough jobs in general and for the youth in particular.”
The ILO stresses that the best way to address youth unemployment is through strong macroeconomic policy and, in many cases, direct government intervention in job placement. The fear of a lost generation resonates with economists who are worried that long-term underemployment will result in declines in worker productivity and GDP growth per capita. This could lead to a situation in which economies are not producing enough real value to grow at a sustainable rate.