This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

October 26, 2011

Sounding a Global Warning

With a global population of seven billion people, it is important to realize that over 28 percent are between the ages of 15 and 24. Today, we highlight a significant societal problem: youth unemployment. “A ‘scarred’ generation of young workers [is] facing a dangerous mix of high unemployment, increased inactivity, and precarious work in developed countries, as well as persistently high working poverty in the developing world”, according to a study released last week by The International Labour Organization (ILO).

Moreover, the ILO warns the situation is getting worse. In its recent report “Global Employment Trends for Youth: 2011 Update”, the ILO speaks of the Great Recession that has brought “its “current discomfort from unemployment, under-employment, and the stress of social hazards associated with joblessness and prolonged inactivity”. However, there are also more critical “possible longer term consequences in lower future wages,” the most serious of which is, “distrust of the political and economic system”.

The report notes: as it becomes increasingly difficult for young people to find anything other than part-time and temporary work, this collective frustration has contributed to protest movements around the world this year. The report adds despite progress made in the education of youth in the Middle East and North Africa, “over the past 20 years, approximately one in four have been unemployed”.

The report states that though the absolute number of unemployed youth fell slightly (from 12.7 to 12.6 percent) since its peak in 2009, in fact, more youth withdrew from the labor market, rather than finding jobs. This fact is especially true in the Developed Economies and the European Union region.

In Ireland, the youth unemployment rate (27.5 percent in 2010) would have been more than 19.3 percentage points higher, if those who were either “hiding out” in the education system, or waiting at home for prospects to improve, were included in the analysis.

In Asia and Africa, young people, trapped in low-income economies, have no choice but to work in subsistence jobs. This employment makes it seem like these youth are better off than they really are.

Unfortunately, the situation is going to get worse, before it gets better. Countries need to address this alarming trend.

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In subsequent Herman Trend Alerts, we will detail some of the solutions.


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