World Employment And Social Outlook-Trends 2020

  • 23 Jan 2020

  • On 20th January, 2020, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) released the World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2020 (WESO) report, which examines employment and social trends for the world as a whole and for each region, and analyses structural transformation and implications for future job quality.
  • The annual WESO report analyses key labour market issues, including unemployment, labour underutilisation, working poverty,income inequality, labour income share and factors that exclude people from decent work.

Major Highlights

Global Unemployment

  • More than 470 million people worldwide are currently unemployed or underemployed, warning that a lack of access to decent jobs was contributing to social unrest.
  • Global unemployment has been roughly stable for the last nine years but slowing global economic growth means that, as the global labour force increases, not enough new jobs are being generated to absorb new entrants to the labour market.
  • More than 60% of the global workforce currently works in the informal economy, often toiling for substandard wages and lacking basic social protections.

Declining Global Labour Income

  • Unequal access to decent work translates into high and persistent income inequalities.
  • In high income countries, the decreasing labour income of the self-employed, compared with that of employees, is a key driver of the aggregate decline.

Work Related Inequality

  • Persisting and substantial work-related inequalities and exclusion are preventing the people from finding decent work and better futures. This in turn, has profound and worrying implications for social cohesion.

Decent Work Deficit

  • Significant inequalities in access to decent work opportunities and outcomes continue to be a persistent feature of current labour markets. Decent work deficits are especially pronounced in the informal economy.

Gender Inequality

  • Contemporary labour markets also continue to be characterized by gender inequality. In 2019, the female labour force participation rate was just 47 percent, 27 percentage points below the male rate (at 74 percent). There is strong regional variation in gender disparities in access to employment.

Rising Working Poverty

  • In 2019, more than 630 million people— a fifth of the global working population lived in so-called working poverty, meaning they made less than $3.20 per day in purchasing power.

Trade Restrictions and Protectionism

  • The report cautions that intensifying trade restrictions and protectionism could have a significant impact on employment, both directly and indirectly.

Future Projection

  • According to the report, a moderate or extreme working poverty is expected to edge up in 2020-21 in developing countries, increasing the obstacles to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1 on eradicating poverty everywhere by 2030.
  • Projected lower economic growth and the lack of inclusiveness are very likely to impair the ability of lower-income countries to reduce poverty and improve working conditions.


  • The report provides an overview of global and regional trends in employment, unemployment, labour force participation and productivity.
  • This report also presents the labour market situation and prospects of rural and urban workers, which is a key line of segmentation that divides the economic and social prospects among the world’s workforce.
  • It also examines income and social developments, and provides an indicator of social unrest.

Way forward

  • Countries all over the world must ensure that economic growth and development occurs in a way that leads to the reduction of poverty and better working conditions in low-income countries, through structural transformation, technological upgrading and diversification.

International Labour Organization (ILO)

Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland

  • The ILO is a United Nations agency, created in 1919, as part of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, to reflect the belief that universal and lasting peace can be accomplished only if it is based on social justice.
  • It is devoted to promoting social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights, pursuing its founding mission that social justice is essential to universal and lasting peace.
  • India is a founding member of the ILO and has been a permanent member of the ILO Governing Body since 1922.