Where are the Good Jobs?

With 211,000 jobs created in November, the latest jobs report from the U.S. Labor Department showed unemployment holding steady at 5 percent (Bloomberg). Our immediate neighbors, Canada and Mexico, have unemployment rates of 7.1 percent and 4.3 percent respectively (HNGN, Yucatan Times). How do these unemployment rates compare globally?

In a new report, “Where the Good Jobs Are,” Gallup projects the true global unemployment rate to be 32 percent, far higher than the 5.9 percent figure used by the International Labour Organization. One problem with unemployment statistics is that they don’t account for discouraged workers who have given up the job hunt.

But the biggest problem with the ILO and similar unemployment statistics is their inability to convey job quality, according to Gallup. Many employed in the developing world live on less than $2 per day. Those who work 30+ hours per week in subsistence farming or in the informal economy technically are employed, but certainly not well-off.

The Gallup report attempts to paint a more accurate picture of global prosperity by assessing the availability of “good jobs.” The report defines a good job as 30+ hours per week with a consistent paycheck from an employer. A great job is a good job in which the employee is engaged in his or her work. The report finds:

Out of 5 billion adults on this planet, 1.3 billion have a good job. Of these 1.3 billion, roughly 12% are engaged. Out of a global workforce of an estimated 3.2 billion adults who are working or looking for work, then, only 5% or 161 million people have a great job. This means about 3 billion people who want a great job don’t have one.

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