The middle class is rising in a big way, especially in developing countries. About 42 per cent of workers, or nearly 1.1 billion, are now ‘middle-class’, living with families on over Rs 225 ($4-13) per person per day, says a new ILO report.
By 2017, the developing world could see the addition of 390 million more workers in the middle class, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) report says.
“Over time, this emerging middle-class could give a much needed push to more balanced global growth by boosting consumption, particularly in poorer parts of the developing world,” said Steven Kapsos, one of the authors of the Global Employment Trends 2013.
However, the report raises a red flag for employment growth in 2013-14, even if there is a moderate pick-up in output growth.
It estimates that the number of unemployed worldwide may rise by 5.1 million to more than 202 million in 2013 and by another 3 million in 2014, half-a-million of which will be youth.
“The indecision of policy-makers in several countries has led to uncertainty about future conditions and reinforced corporate tendencies to increase cash holdings or pay dividends rather than expand capacity and hire new workers,” says the report.
The ILO report noted that in India, growth in investment contributed 1.5 percentage points to the overall GDP growth over the past year, down from 1.8 percentage points in 2011, while the contribution from consumption declined to 2.8 per cent versus 3.2 per cent the previous year.
Job creation, labour productivity
For countries such as India, the report called for focus on both employment creation and labour productivity.
It noted that in India, even where jobs were created, a large number of workers remained in agriculture (51.1 per cent), in the urban informal sector or in unprotected jobs (contract) in the formal sector.
The share of workers in manufacturing was just 11 per cent in 2009-10, no higher than a decade earlier.
Like many regions, growth has failed to deliver a significant number of better jobs in the formal economy.
Most notably in India, the share of formal employment has declined from around 9 per cent in 1999-2000 to 7 per cent in 2009-10, in spite of record growth rates, it said quoting a study.
Using a comparable definition for the latest year available, the report said the share of workers in informal employment in the non-agricultural sector stood at 83.6 per cent in India (2009-10), 78.4 per cent in Pakistan (2009-10) and 62.1 per cent in Sri Lanka (2009).
Significantly, the report noted that unemployment rates increased rapidly for high-skilled workers, especially women.
“Indians with a diploma suffer particularly, with unemployment rates reaching 34.5 per cent for women and 18.9 per cent for men during 2009-2010,” it added.