Decent work and economic growth

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth

ver the past 25 years the number of workers living in extreme poverty has declined dramatically, despite the lasting impact of the 2008 economic crisis and global recession. In developing countries, the middle class now makes up more than 34 percent of total employment – a number that has almost tripled between 1991 and 2015.

However, as the global economy continues to recover we are seeing slower growth, widening inequalities, and not enough jobs to keep up with a growing labour force. According to the International Labour Organization, more than 204 million people were unemployed in 2015.

The Arab region with a Gross domestic product (GDP) levelling at US$6,056 billion in 2015 –constituting 5.6 percent of the Word’s GDP— witnesses great disparities. The Human Development Report 2016 shows that the Gross National Income per capita of the Arab region averaged at US$14,958 in 2015, the United Arab Emirates registering a high value of US$66,203, and Syria, Yemen and Comoros registering value as low as US$2,441, US$2,300 and US$1,335, respectively. All figures are based on Purchasing Power Parity, constant 2011 prices.

The SDGs promote sustained economic growth, higher levels of productivity and technological innovation. Encouraging entrepreneurship and job creation are key to this, as are effective measures to eradicate forced labour, slavery and human trafficking. With these targets in mind, the goal is to achieve full and productive employment, and decent work, for all women and men by 2030

Facts and figures


An estimated 172 million people worldwide were without work in 2018 – an unemployment rate of 5 percent.

1 million

As a result of an expanding labour force, the number of unemployed is projected to increase by 1 million every year and reach 174 million by 2020.

700 million

Some 700 million workers lived in extreme or moderate poverty in 2018, with less than US$3.20 per day.


Women’s participation in the labour force stood at 48 per cent in 2018, compared with 75 percent for men. Around 3 in 5 of the 3.5 billion people in the labour force in 2018 were men.

2 billion

Overall, 2 billion workers were in informal employment in 2016, accounting for 61 per cent of the world’s workforce.

85 million

Many more women than men are underutilized in the labour force—85 million compared to 55 million.