Ad Hoc Commentary – global unemployment and resentment

The ILO released their Global Employment Trends report overnight. The executive summary should be required reading for those who care about politics. We all know that in the past, worker solidarity had brought about profound changes in politics – neo-capitalism and collectivism. Yours truly believes that instead of the worker (i.e. proletariat) question of yesteryears, we will be increasingly faced with the unemployment question in the coming years.

In any case, the executive summary of the ILO says that, “Global unemployment increased by 5 million people in 2013 (reaching 201.8 million) and would probably rise by a further 13 million people by 2018, affecting young people disproportionately.”—dgreports/—dcomm/—publ/documents/publication/wcms_233953.pdf

Work is a basic dimension of human existence. Our lives and dignity is built up every day from work. As people get discouraged from seeking job, they lose hope and dignity. Without hope, the unemployed, especially the young unemployed are usually tinderboxes for social disturbances. It is thus very concerning that almost one-quarter of young people aged 15 to 29 are now NEET (neither in employment, nor in education or training) in certain countries.

Yours truly believes that NEET solidarity is going to define the political future, and thus Figure 6 and 7 on page 21 and 22 is a graphic that we should keep in mind. Unemployment is a world pandemic. The largest cumulative increases in the last few years are seen in MENA and Europe. We all know that social unrest increased in those regions. In Figure 7, we see that even though we don’t hear much about youth unemployment in Latin America, the absolute levels are high in countries like Mexico and Brazil.

Unless we do something about the question of work, we will likely see old conflict between labor and capital superseded by the new conflict between non-labor (unemployed) and capital. In the past, the question was mainly on establishing a fair remuneration for work, on which the justice of the whole socioeconomic question rests on. In the future, the question is not simply a fair wage, but the even more fundamental question of suitable employment for all who are capable of it. It is a question that is especially important for the young college graduate, who after nearly 20 years of formal education and saddled with college debts, find their hope of establishing a foothold in society sadly frustrated.

Good luck in the markets.