Pacific job market shows resilience amid challenges: ILO report

May 5, 2024 | Blog, News, Pacific

Despite persistent challenges, the job market in the Pacific region has demonstrated resilience, as highlighted in a recent report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Released during the Pacific Tripartite High-Level Dialogue on Decent Work and the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent meeting held in Fiji, the Pacific Employment and Social Monitor for April 2024 shed light on the ongoing dynamics within the region’s employment landscape.

The report underscores that while the Pacific job market has shown signs of recovery, certain hurdles persist. Unemployment rates have regressed to pre-pandemic levels, with approximately 800,000 individuals without jobs in 2023, translating to a 3.6 per cent unemployment rate. However, in economies beyond the likes of Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea, this figure rises to 5.3 per cent, nearing the global average.

Martin Wandera, the ILO Country Director for the Pacific Islands, emphasised the significant wage and working condition disparities within the region. The prevalence of low-quality jobs characterised by informality and modest wages in countries outside the larger economies has led to labor migration as individuals seek better economic opportunities elsewhere.

Wandera stressed the need to foster inclusive, decent, and appealing job opportunities in the national labour markets of Pacific Island countries, while ensuring positive experiences for those opting to migrate for work.

Despite steady job growth in smaller Pacific Island nations, challenges persist, particularly for marginalised groups. Women, though constituting a significant portion of the workforce, continue to face gender disparities, encountering higher unemployment rates compared to men. Youth unemployment remains a pressing issue, with substantial numbers classified as Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET).

The report highlights regional variations, with NEET rates ranging from nearly 50 percent in Kiribati to under 10 percent in the Solomon Islands. Young women consistently exhibit higher NEET rates than young men.

While the report indicates a slight decline in informal employment, from 35.9 per cent in 2010 to 34.7 per cent in 2023, it remains alarmingly high, contributing to working poverty and job insecurity. Excluding Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea, the informal employment rate stands at 55.1%, closely reflecting the global rate.

The report underscores the importance of promoting entrepreneurship, implementing social protection measures, and upholding labour standards to create decent jobs for all segments of society.

Read the report here.