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Generating full and productive employment for all

In the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, governments commit to generate full and productive employment and decent work for all and promote micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to enable all people to benefit from growth.

Specifically, the Addis Agenda:

  • Commits to include full and productive employment and decent work for all as a central objective in national development strategies
  • Calls for full and equal participation of women and men, including persons with disabilities, in the formal labour market
  • Will work … to integrate the informal sector into the formal economy in line with country circumstances
  • Commits to developing and operationalizing, by 2020, a global strategy for youth employment and to implement the ILO Global Jobs Pact by 2020
  • Commits to promote national youth strategies as a key instrument for meeting the needs and aspirations of young people
  • Commits to promoting appropriate, affordable and stable access to credit to MSMEs (SDG 8.3), as well as adequate skills development training for all


Update from the 2019 Financing for Sustainable Development Report

The upturn in the world economy over the past few years has been associated with a slight improvement in global labour market indicators. The global unemployment rate is estimated to have fallen marginally in 2018 to about 5 per cent. However, after expanding by an annual average of 1.2 per cent between 2013 and 2018, global employment is projected to grow by less than 1.0 per cent in 2019, slowing further in 2020.

In many developed economies, unemployment rates are currently at historical lows. Against this backdrop, firms in several countries have reported capacity constraints, amid the inability to attract sufficient numbers of qualified workers. By contrast, in a few large developing economies, unemployment rates have risen, as job markets have been deeply impacted by sharp economic downturns and/or political crises.

Headline indicators also conceal structural weaknesses in labour market conditions, which pose a developmental challenge for policymakers. Many of the working poor hold informal jobs or are in other vulnerable forms of employment, such as contributing family work and own-account work. Of those employed in 2018, 265 million workers were nonetheless living in extreme poverty. In developing countries, three out of four workers are in vulnerable forms of employment, which entail lower levels of job stability and are often associated with a lack of decent working conditions. Moreover, more than half of the world population has no access to social protection. This tends to perpetuate high levels of subsistence activities, which generally provide low levels of income.

With about 60 million unemployed youth and 139 million young workers living in poverty, youth unemployment remains a global policy challenge. About 22 per cent of young people across the world aged 15-24 are not employed or enrolled in education or training— more than three-fourths of them are female. In addition, gender disparities in the labour market remain wide. In 2018, women still accounted for less than two-fifths of the global workforce. The global labour force participation rate of women in 2018, at 47.9 per cent is considerably lower than that for men, which stands at 74.9 per cent. The gap between women’s and men’s wages is large—from 16 per cent to 22 per cent depending on the estimation technique. In developed countries, the gender pay gap is largest at the top of the income distribution, while in poorer countries, the gap is largest at the low end of the wage distribution.

Relevant SDG indicator