Europe, Middle East and Africa
Employment figures across Europe were generally favourable in the last several months, while the employment situations in the Middle East and Africa varied.
The unemployment rate in the eurozone dropped to 10.3 per cent in March, the lowest rate since August 2011 and the third consecutive month that the rate has fallen, according to the BBC. Some 16.65 million people were unemployed during the month, 105,000 people fewer than in February. The unemployment rate for the European Union also fell, from 9 per cent in December to 8.9 per cent in March, the lowest it has been since May 2009.
In the U.K., unemployment dropped between November and January to 1.68 million, 28,000 fewer than the previous quarter. Despite the fall, the unemployment rate held steady at 5.1 per cent. However, the employment rate reached 74.1 per cent, which is the highest level since 1971. Average earnings also went up by 2.1 per cent over the year, reported RTE News.
The unemployment rate in Italy fell after previous labour figures were revised. Despite economists’ predictions of stagnant unemployment, joblessness dropped from 11.6 per cent in December to 11.5 per cent in January. Notably, the youth unemployment rate fell for the first time since 2007, reported The Local, dropping from 12.7 per cent in 2014 to 11.9 per cent in 2015.
Turkish unemployment reached 10.8 per cent in December, a 10-month high. Over the year, the rate fell 0.1 per centage points. Some 3.2 million people were unemployed in December, leading to a labour participation rate of 50.9 per cent.
The national unemployment rate in Jordan was 13.6 per cent during the fourth quarter of 2015, down from 13.8 per cent in the third quarter. The Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation and the Ministry of Labour recently signed a $22 million agreement to decrease poverty and unemployment in vulnerable areas, according to The Jordan Times. The funds will be used in part to construct factory buildings around areas with high levels of joblessness, and is expected to create 5,000 jobs.
In South Africa, unemployment decreased by 1 per cent to fall to 24.5 per cent at the end of 2015. During the fourth quarter of last year, 190,000 more people were employed and 225,000 fewer people were unemployed. The number of people who were able to work, but were not searching for work, dropped by 117,000 to reach 8.2 million. Analysts expect that the national bank will raise rates in an effort to improve economic stability in the face of increasing inflation, reported All Africa.
Employment situations were mixed across Asia and the Pacific, as leaders across nations in the region looked to secure stable economic growth in the coming year.
In Japan, unemployment fell from 3.3 per cent to 3.2 per cent in January, its lowest level in three months, reported The Japan Times. The availability of jobs increased to 1.28 during the month, which signifies that for every 100 people looking for work there were 128 jobs available. However, average monthly household spending was down 3.1 per cent versus a year earlier.
In the Philippines, a surge in the growth of the Information Technology-Business Processing Management sector is highlighting a labour shortage in the country. The Department of Labor and Employment recently announced that the IT-BPM sector needs 1.19 million new employees this year, according to The Manila Times. The country has one of the largest emigrant populations in the world, at 10.2 million people, and the government is urging its citizens to take up jobs at home.
The unemployment rate in Thailand remained under 1 per cent, registering at 0.91 per cent in January. According to ThaiVisa News, university graduates have the highest unemployment rate, with 103,000 recent graduates without jobs.
Australian unemployment fell from 6 per cent to 5.8 per cent in February, surprising economists who had predicted no change, Bloomberg reported. Full-time positions grew by 15,900 during the month and part-time positions fell by 15,600. Employment, however, fell short of economists’ estimates, increasing by only 300 during the month instead of the predicted 13,500. The labor force participation rate also declined, from 65.1 per cent to 64.9 per cent.
Employment reports across the Americas were quite varied this month.
Amid early concerns that the U.S. economy was headed for another recession in 2016, the uptick in the job market from January to February has helped to settle those fears. Last month alone, 242,000 jobs were added and unemployment remained at 4.9 per cent, its lowest since February of 2008, reported CNN Money.
The labor participation rate in the nation has continued its upward growth trend since September, which is surprising given that overall the rate has neared historic lows.
However, reports were not entirely favorable across the board. Job gains in February were mostly in low-paying sectors and wages have fallen again after the strong growth of 0.5 per cent in January, putting the yearly growth in wages at 2.2 per cent, according to the New York Times. Interestingly, 0.2 hours were shaved off the average workweek last month.
Yet despite concerns, predictions forecast the economy to continue full steam ahead for 2016.
Across the region the economic downturn in Latin America is putting millions of employees at risk, according to Reuters. In late 2015 the source predicted the jobless rate could top 11 per cent in 2016 and continue rising well into 2017.
Brazil is bearing the worst of it, though the unemployment rates in Colombia, Peru and Chile are also plummeting. The small silver lining, however, is that due to tough labor laws in the region, Latin American companies often take a long time to lay off an employee.
According to CNN Money, Brazil is currently struggling through its longest recession since the 1930s. The national currency has already lost 24 per cent of its value to the dollar and the prices of oil, coffee and sugar - Brazil's biggest exports - have also fallen. The economy itself fell 3.5 per cent in 2015. A drop in sales and higher costs of rent also forced more than 1,200 local stores out of business last year.