Decent work: A pressing need, a global goal

Decent work is the main path out of poverty and towards a better life. Decent work for all women and men ensures social inclusion and dignity as the world of work plays a key role in economic and social progress and political stability everywhere.

Decent work is a source of personal dignity and peace in the community. It inspires democracies that deliver for people, and fuels economic growth that expands opportunities for productive jobs and enterprise development.

Experience shows that economic growth, on its own, is not sufficient. We must do more to empower individuals through decent work, support people through social protection, and ensure the voices of the poor and marginalized are heard. As we continue our efforts to achieve the MDGs and shape a post-2015 development agenda, let us make social justice central to achieving equitable and sustainable growth for all.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Message for the World Day of Social Justice, 20 February 2014

Decent work reflects priorities on the social, economic and political agenda of countries and the international system. In a relatively short time this concept has forged an international consensus among governments, employers, workers and civil society that productive employment and Decent work are key elements to achieving fair globalization, reducing poverty and achieving equitable, inclusive, and sustainable development.

Global employment trends at a glance

  • The number of unemployed worldwide rose by 5 million in 2013 to almost 202 million, a 6 per cent unemployment rate.
  • Unemployment has risen by about 28 million since the 2008 crisis.
  • Some 23 million workers have dropped out of the labour market.
  • The number of jobseekers is expected to rise by more than 13 million by 2018.
  • Some 74.5 million people in the 15 to 24 age group were unemployed in 2013, a 13.1 per cent youth unemployment rate.
  • Around 839 million workers lived with their families on less than USD 2 in 2013.
  • Some 375 million workers lived with their families on less than USD 1.25 a day in 2013.
  • Some 470 million new jobs will be needed in the next fifteen years.
Source: ILO Global Employment Trends 2014.