Sustainable Development

Labour statistics for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its accompanying monitoring framework has major implications for national statistical systems worldwide as they face the complex task of producing reliable, consistent and comparable statistics for an increasing number of goals and targets. The MDGs had 8 Goals, 21 targets and 60 indicators whereas the SDGs have 17 Goals, 169 targets and 232 indicators.

As a custodian agency, the ILO reports to the UN data for 14 SDG indicators, grouped under 5 of the 17 Goals. Moreover, the ILO’s role in strengthening countries’ capacity for producing high-quality labour statistics has become even more crucial.

8% of the world’s employed live in poverty.

Having a job is not enough to escape poverty, job quality is needed as well.

This means 55% of people in the world are NOT covered by any form of social protection.

The human right to social security is not yet a reality for most of the world’s population.

Only 27% of managerial positions in the world are occupied by women, although they represent 39% of the world’s workers, and half of the working-age population.

Women face barriers to enter the labour market, and a glass ceiling makes it even harder for them to reach management.

Labour productivity grew by 2.7% in 2018.

The amount of GDP produced by worker on average is growing faster.

51% of the world’s non-agricultural employment and 61% of the world’s employment are informal.

The majority of workers in the world are in informality, not enjoying basic labour rights and access to social protection.

The global unemployment rate is 5%, while for youth it is 12%.

Young workers are three times more likely than adults to be unemployed.

21% of the world’s youth are not in employment, education or training.

Over one fifth of the world's youth are jobless and not furthering their skills, which puts them at risk of social and economic exclusion.

10% of all the children in the world are in child labour.

One child out of ten is in child labour around the world, which hinders childhood development.

14% of the world’s workers work in manufacturing.

The share of manufacturing employment is declining, as economies gradually develop and employment gets reallocated from agriculture and industry to services.

52% of the world’s GDP goes to remunerating labour.

The labour income share is declining, which means that workers around the world are not getting their fair share of economic growth and productivity gains.

What are the SDGs?

The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly. The 17 SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. They cover a broad range of social and economic development issues, including poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, the environment and social justice, with a focus on the most vulnerable and a commitment that “no one will be left behind.”

The role of decent work

Goal 8, which aims to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”, highlights the importance of decent work in achieving sustainable development.

The role of statistics

The role of national statistical offices (NSOs)

High quality data (i.e., reliable, timely, consistent and comparable data) are required in order to measure and monitor progress towards the SDGs. NSOs play a pivotal role in the areas of data collection, coordination, reporting and validation of statistics for the SDGs. It is the responsibility of NSOs to provide statistics to international agencies such as the ILO to support the measurement of progress on SDGs. This includes identifying appropriate data sources and methodologies to produce the SDG indicators.

The role of the ILO Department of Statistics

The ILO contributes to five of 17 Goals. As custodian for 14 SDG indicators, the ILO is responsible for:

  • Compiling national statistics from data producers
  • Verifying country data and metadata and ensuring international comparability
  • Developing international standards and methods for Tier 3 indicators
  • Estimating global and regional aggregates
  • Analysing data and identifying data gaps and key trends
  • Reporting data and metadata to the UN annually and contributing to SDG progress reports
  • Strengthening national capacity for producing high-quality data on SDG labour indicators

The ILO Department of Statistics is the focal point for all inputs provided to the UN Statistics Division, with key contributions from other departments and field offices.

Data and documents

Last update: February 2019

Working poverty

1.1.1 Proportion of population below the international poverty line, by sex, age, employment status and geographical location (urban/rural)

The working poverty rate has been continuously declining since the beginning of the century in all regions of the world with available data for this indicator. This is a reassuring trend, reflecting a general improvement in job quality and underscoring the central role that decent and productive employment plays in lifting people out of poverty.

However, as encouraging as the widespread reduction in working poverty is, it is important to note that progress has slowed down in the past five years, serving as a reminder of the need to renew efforts in this area. The situation remains particularly alarming in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the share of working poor stood at 38 per cent in 2018, and in the least developed countries and landlocked developing countries, where over a quarter of the employed live in extreme poverty despite having a job.


 

Social protection

1.3.1 Percentage of the population covered by social protection floors/systems disaggregated by sex, and distinguishing children, unemployed, old age, people with disabilities, pregnant women/new-borns, work injury victims, poor and vulnerable

To date, countries in many parts of the world have made significant progress in the extension of social protection. Nevertheless, the human right to social security is not yet a reality for a majority of the world’s population. Only 45 per cent of the global population is effectively covered by at least one social protection cash benefit, while the remaining 55 per cent – as many as 4 billion people – are left unprotected. Trends in social protection coverage vary substantially across regions, from only 18 per cent in Africa and 39 per cent in Asia and the Pacific, to more than 84 per cent in Europe.

Substantial improvements have been made in coverage of older persons: 68 per cent of people above retirement age receive a pension, which is associated with the expansion of both non-contributory and contributory pensions. However, data also show a global deficit of social protection for other groups: only 22 per cent of the unemployed receive unemployment cash benefits, 28 per cent of persons with severe disabilities receive disability cash benefits, 35 per cent of children worldwide enjoy effective access to social protection, and only 41 per cent of women giving birth receive maternity cash benefits. Furthermore, coverage by social assistance cash benefits is as low as 25 per cent for vulnerable people, comprising children, people of working age and older persons not protected by contributory schemes.


 

Women in management

5.5.2: Proportion of women in managerial positions

In 2018, 27 per cent of managerial positions in the world were occupied by women. The proportion of women in management has increased, albeit moderately, since the beginning of the century, and this global upward trend was observed in almost all regions in the world. In fact, only in the least developed countries was the proportion of women in management smaller in 2018 than in 2000. Focusing on the last ten years only, female representation in management increased between 2008 and 2018 in all regions except for Western Asia, Northern Africa and the landlocked developing countries.

Although this widespread upward trend of women’s participation in management is encouraging, progress has been slow and women are still grossly under-represented in management compared to total employment, calling for the urgent attention of policy-makers, legislators and the international community to reach equality.

Indeed, women represented 39 per cent of the world’s employment in 2018, almost 12 percentage points above the proportion they represented in management. This pattern of under-representation of women in management compared to total employment is observed in all regions, but the magnitude of the gap varies considerably. In the landlocked developing countries, the least developed countries and Sub-Saharan Africa, the share of women is over 16 percentage points lower in management than in total employment, pointing to significant barriers faced by women to assume managerial positions. Conversely, in Latin America and the Caribbean (the region with the highest proportion of women in management, 39 per cent in 2018), the share of women in total employment is only 2 percentage points higher than their share in managerial positions.

It is important to note that aggregate data on managerial positions does not allow for a distinction to be made based on levels of management (top, senior, middle or junior management), number of staff supervised, type of economic unit, or scope and size of the economic unit, which are all important to assess the actual decision-making power of workers holding managerial positions.


 

Labour productivity

8.2.1 Annual growth rate of real GDP per employed person

Since the global economic downturn of 2009, labour productivity (measured as GDP per employed person) has been increasing in the world, recording positive annual growth rates consistently since 2010. In 2018, the world’s labour productivity increased by 2.1 per cent, the highest annual growth since 2010.

Wide disparities are observed across regions in terms of labour productivity growth. In fact, while labour productivity has risen uninterruptedly since 2010 in nearly all regions of the world, landlocked developing countries registered negative growth in 2016, as did Latin America and the Caribbean from 2014 to 2017, and Sub-Saharan Africa in 2016 and 2017.

Between 2017 and 2018, the average output produced per worker grew the most in Central Asia and Southern Asia (4.8 per cent) and Eastern Asia and South-eastern Asia (4.2 per cent). It was little changed in Sub-Saharan Africa (0.3 per cent) and grew only marginally in Latin America and the Caribbean (0.5 per cent) and in small island developing States (0.8 per cent).


 

Informal employment

8.3.1 Proportion of informal employment in non‑agriculture employment, by sex

Informality remains pervasive around the world: in three-quarters of countries with available data, more than half of all persons employed in non-agriculture are in informal employment. Even more alarmingly, in 35 per cent of countries with data, three out of every four non-agricultural workers are engaged in informal employment. This startling pattern requires urgent attention from policy makers given the adverse impact of informality on adequacy of earnings, occupational safety and health and working conditions in general.

In 69 per cent of countries with available data, the share of informal employment in non-agriculture is higher for women than for men, pointing to a strong gender dimension of informality. The gender gap in the informality rate is largest in Angola, El Salvador, Gambia, Liberia, Niger and Zimbabwe (where the share of informal employment in total non-agriculture employment is over 15 percentage points higher for women than for men). In contrast, in Egypt, the share of informal employment in total non-agriculture employment is almost 19 percentage points higher for men than for women.


 

Gender pay gap

8.5.1 Average hourly earnings of female and male employees, by occupation, age and persons with disabilities

Rooted in rigid social norms and cultural expectations about women’s roles in society, the gender pay gap, combined with differences in employment opportunities, as well as lower access to social protection, have implications for women’s access to own income. Over time, these differences result in large lifetime income gaps and inhibit gender equality now and in the future. Based on the latest available data for 62 countries, the median hourly gender pay gap stood at 12 per cent. Among 49 countries with available occupational wage statistics, men enjoy a wage premium relative to women in every major occupational category. The median gender pay gap exceeds 20 per cent in managerial and professional occupations, among crafts and related trades workers, and among plant machine operators and assemblers. Women’s underrepresentation in employment in high-skilled occupations and high gender wage gaps observed among managers and professionals are both important indicators of the glass ceiling faced by many highly skilled women in the labour market.


 

Unemployment

8.5.2 Unemployment rate, by sex, age and persons with disabilities

In 2018, the global unemployment rate stood at 5.0 per cent, matching, for the first time since the onset of the global economic crisis, the rate of unemployment that prevailed before the crisis. Nevertheless, it is striking that while it took only one year for global unemployment to jump from 5.0 per cent in 2008 to 5.6 per cent in 2009, it took a full 9 years to recover.

Yet, this encouraging trend in global unemployment masks more complex realities. Indeed, the unemployment rate does not provide an indication of the quality of jobs held by the employed, or on the situation of those who quit the labour force out of job-search discouragement or because they are not available to work due to other responsibilities.

There are wide disparities in unemployment rates across regions. In 2018, the unemployment rates in Western Asia and Northern Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean (the regions with the highest unemployment rates) were over 2.5 times the unemployment rate of Central Asia and Southern Asia (the regions with the lowest unemployment rate).

At the global level, there is not a considerable difference in unemployment rates by sex, but the gender disparities are alarming in some regions, such as Western Asia and Northern Africa (where the female unemployment rate was over 8 percentage points higher than the male unemployment rate in 2018) and Latin America and the Caribbean (where the female unemployment rate was almost 3 percentage points higher than the male unemployment rate in 2018). This highlights the need for renewed efforts to ensure gender equality in the labour market, and particularly adequate access to the labour market for women, in all regions of the world.

The situation in terms of access to employment remains particularly worrying for youth, who have a much higher unemployment rate than the rest of the population in all regions. Indeed, the world’s youth were 3 times more likely to be unemployed in 2018 than adults, pointing to the critical importance of designing appropriate youth employment policies.


 

Youth NEET

8.6.1 Proportion of youth (aged 15-24 years) not in education, employment or training

In 2018, 21 per cent of the world’s youth were not in education, employment or training. This means that around one out of every five youth around the world are neither gaining professional experience through jobs nor acquiring or developing skills through educational or vocational programs, signalling a need for targeted policies to address this issue. It is important to note, however, that data on the share of youth not in education, employment or training does not provide information on the participation of youth in unpaid work (such as own-use production work or volunteer work).

The situation of youth is particularly alarming in Central Asia, Southern Asia, Western Asia and Northern Africa, where more than one quarter of the young population are not in education, employment or training. In fact, the regional disparities are so significant that the share of youth not in education, employment or training is over twice as large in Central Asia and Southern Asia (27 per cent) than in Northern America and Europe (12 per cent). Furthermore, while 30 per cent of the world’s youth live in Central Asia and Southern Asia, this region is home to 38 per cent of the youth who are not in education, employment or training, underscoring the difficulties faced by youth in the region. In contrast, Eastern Asia and South-eastern Asia are home to one fourth of the world’s youth, but to only one fifth of the world’s youth not in education, employment or training. Similarly, Northern America and Europe are home to 11 per cent of the global youth population, but to only 6 per cent of the global young population not in education, employment or training.

Strikingly, while the share of young men not in education, employment or training in the world in 2018 was 13 per cent, the share of young women not in education, employment or training was around 30 per cent, meaning that young women were over twice as likely as young men to be unemployed or outside the labour force and not in education or training. In order to be successful, strategies for youth employment, education and vocational training must integrate a gender dimension, to account for the strong gender issues particularly affecting young women.


 

Occupational injuries

8.8.1 Frequency rates of fatal and non-fatal occupational injuries, by sex and migrant status

A large share of the world’s population spends a great portion of their day at work, and they do so for a great portion of their lives. Thus, working conditions have a strong impact on living conditions, influencing the wellbeing of workers and their families. Working conditions refer to all aspects of employment, including earnings quality, adequacy of working time, job security, social protection coverage, and the suitability of the working environment and the workplace. Occupational safety and health is part and parcel of the quality of employment. Yet, unfortunately, many workers around the world are exposed to undue risks in their workplaces. Post-2009 data shows that in at least eight countries (Belize, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, Nicaragua, the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Zimbabwe) there were more than 10 work-related fatalities per 100’000 workers and in half of the countries with available data, the number of non-fatal injuries incurred by workers in connection to their work surpassed 1’000 per 100’000.

Strikingly, in all countries with post-2009 data, the number of occupational injuries per 100’000 workers was higher for men than for women, both for fatal and non-fatal injuries. One possible explanation for this gender dimension of risk exposure could be the concentration of men in the most unsafe sectors. This points to the need for appropriate regulations and targeted measures to minimize risk exposure and ensure the safest working environment possible for all workers, taking into account the specificities of each sector of activity.

It is important to highlight that statistics of occupational injuries are usually based on administrative data, most commonly derived from insurance records, labour inspection records or records of the labour ministry, implying that workers in informal employment often are not covered by the prevailing data sources.

1.1.1  Proportion of population below the international poverty line, by sex, age, employment status and geographical location (Tier 1):  Data  |  Metadata

1.3.1  Proportion of population covered by social protection floors/systems by sex, distinguishing children, unemployed persons, older persons, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, newborns, work-injury victims and the poor and the vulnerable (Tier 2):  Data  |  Metadata

1.a.2  Proportion of total government spending on essential services (education, health and social protection) (Tier 2): Metadata


5.5.2  Proportion of women in managerial positions (Tier 1):  Data  |  Metadata


8.2.1  Annual growth rate of real GDP per employed person (Tier 1):  Data  |  Metadata

8.3.1  Proportion of informal employment in non-agricultural employment, by sex (Tier 2):  National data  |  Harmonized data  |   Metadata

8.5.1  Average hourly earnings of female and male employees, by occupation, age and persons with disabilities (Tier 2):  Data  |  Metadata

8.5.2  Unemployment rate, by sex, age and persons with disabilities (Tier 1):  Data by sex and age  |  Data by sex and disability status  |  Metadata

8.6.1  Proportion of youth (aged 15-24 years) not in education, employment or training (Tier 1):  Data  |  Metadata

8.7.1  Proportion and number of children aged 5-17 years engaged in child labour, by sex and age (Tier 2): Proportion  |  Number  |  Metadata

8.8.1  Frequency rates of fatal and non-fatal occupational injuries, by sex and migrant status (Tier 2): Fatal data  |  Non-fatal data  |  Metadata

8.8.2  Level of national compliance of labour rights (freedom of association and collective bargaining) based on International Labour Organization (ILO) textual sources and national legislation, by sex and migrant status (Tier 2): Metadata

8.b.1  Existence of a developed and operationalized national strategy for youth employment, as a distinct strategy or as part of a national employment strategy (Tier 2):  Metadata


9.2.2  Manufacturing employment as a proportion of total employment (Tier 1):  Data  |  Metadata


10.4.1  Labour share of GDP, comprising wages and social protection transfers (Tier 2):  Data  |  Metadata

10.7.1  Recruitment cost borne by employee as a proportion of yearly income earned in country of destination (Tier 2): Metadata


14.c.1  Number of countries making progress in ratifying, accepting and implementing through legal, policy and institutional frameworks, ocean-related instruments that implement international law, as reflected in the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea, for the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and their resources (Tier 3)

Decent Work and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Guidebook on SDG Labour Market Indicators

Decent Work and the Sustainable Development Goals: A Guidebook on SDG Labour Market Indicators

This Guidebook provides a detailed overview of the labour market indicators included in the Sustainable Development Goals Global Indicator Framework. It is intended to serve as a manual of best practices for calculating and interpreting the SDG labour market indicators, with a view to monitoring progress made at the national and international levels towards the achievement of the SDGs.

Resolutions adopted by the 20th ICLS

Resolution II: Resolution concerning the methodology of the SDG Indicator 8.8.2 on labour rights 

Resolution III: Resolution concerning the methodology of the SDG Indicator 8.b.1 on youth employment

Tier classification

TIER 1

Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, and data are regularly produced by countries for at least 50 per cent of countries and of the population in every region where the indicator is relevant.

TIER 2

Indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, but data are not regularly produced by countries.

TIER 3

No internationally established methodology or standards are yet available for the indicator, but methodology/standards are being (or will be) developed or tested.​