NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Global Unemployment High, But Tenure Steady

November 26, 1996

Global unemployment is at grim levels -- especially in Europe. But job tenure is steady or even perhaps growing, according to a new study by the International Labor Organization (ILO), a United Nations affiliate.

  • About 30 percent of the global work force -- or roughly one billion people -- are unemployed or "underemployed," by ILO estimates.
  • But the average number of years that workers stay with the same employer -- a key indicator of work force stability -- has basically held steady.
  • Despite a widespread perception of economic insecurity in the U.S., economists have found no significant declines in job tenure rates.
  • Unemployment in European nations rose last year to an average of 11.3 percent.

European employers, who have resisted making deep job cuts when economic conditions called for them, may be beginning to consider downsizing -- although tenure rates so far are steady.

Among former Eastern Block countries in Europe, there were solid gains in real wages last year; with the Czech Republic posting increases of 7.9 percent; Romania, 21.8 percent; and Lithuania, 10 percent. But Bulgaria and Hungary saw real wage declines of 19 percent and 10 percent respectively.

Source: Pascal Zachary, "Global Unemployment at 'Grim' Levels, Study Finds, But Job Tenure is Secure," Wall Street Journal, November 26, 1996.


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