Thursday, May 17

Jobless Rate Rising In Asean Says ILO

By Hadi DP Mahmud

Bandar Seri Begawan - More than 27 million jobs were created from year 2000 to last year in Southeast Asia, according to a report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO)

This represents an l l per cent increase in total employment in the region, which stood at 263 million last year, the ILO said the report, which is a compilation of comprehensive employment and social statistics including labour productivity, employment by sector and the informal economy of Asean countries. It is the first of its kind, said the ILO. The report stated that young people in the Asean region are being "disproportionately affected" in terms of unemployment.

The unemployment rate in Asean rose from 5 per cent to 6.6 per cent over the same period. However, this figure is skewed by the situation in Indonesia, which has the region's largest labour force. Unemployment in the world's most populous Muslim nation rose from 6.1 to 10.4 per cent.

According to the Brunei Darussalam Key Indicators 2006, there were 7,300 jobseekers in the sultanate last year. The unemployment rate in Brunei shot up 0.8 per cent from 2004 to 2005, and declined 0.3 per cent last year.

The United Nations-specialised agency called for Asean to increase labour productivity and narrow development gaps between members to ensure sustainable growth and build a thriving community by 2015.

The 107-page report, entitled Labour and Social Trends inAsean 2007: Integration, Challenges, Opportunities, warns that although unemployment is commonly seen as an important indicator, other crucial aspects of labour market performance deserve more attention. These include gender gaps, labour productivity, working conditions, the growing informal economy and the working poor. Despite recent economic growth, the region remains home to millions of poor.

Last year, more than half of Asean's 262 million workers earned less than US$2 per day, which leaves them and their families below the poverty line.

"What matters therefore, when evaluating labour market trends is not just the level of employment but also its nature and quality," the report stated.

The ILO warned Asean of its labour productivity, which is lagging far behind productivity bursts in India and China. Between 2000 and 2005, output per worker in Asean grew only 15.5 per cent compared to 26.9 in India and 63.4 per cent in China. "Because of its strong export-orientation, productivity growth is critical to Asean. Accelerating productivity growth is therefore essential, not only for competitiveness but for job creation and poverty reduction," the report noted. Cross-border labour migration is being driven by uneven labour supply and persistent development gaps, the report added. In 2005, the total number of migrants originating from Asean was estimated at 13.5 million, 39 per cent of whom were in other Asean member countries.

"The large and growing number of irregular migrants means that managing migration and ensuring migrants' protection are becoming pressing issues - a major task that Asean has now taken up with its recent Declaration and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers," the organisation said.-- Courtesy of The Brunei Times

SOURCE: News (17 MAY 2007)

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