we welcome today’s session, which addresses one of the biggest issues on the global agenda.
The latest data show that the global employment crisis is not over and will require the best of our efforts to be overcome. According to the International Labor Organization’s last report, unemployment rates will continue to rise while the global economy remains in a phase of slow growth. The report forecasts that in 2019 the number of unemployed worldwide will exceed 212 million, up from 201 million today. Since the crisis began in 2008, more than 61 million jobs have been lost. The report also points to growing income inequality. The good news is that there has been a decline worldwide in workers living in poverty or with low job security.
Low income leads to a reduction in aggregate demand, which in turn has a negative impact on the whole economic cycle. Employment must therefore remain a priority for government action. An integrated macroeconomic approach is needed with coordinated initiatives also at the international level pursuing growth and employment as one goal rather than as two separate ones. We must work on the structural factors that impact the job market such as the shrinking of the labor force due in part to the aging of populations in some regions of the world and the radical shift in the skills that are in demand.
Mr. Chair, one of the greatest challenges of a global economy is matching the supply and demand of labor. It is also crucial to addressing the problem of youth unemployment, which is a major problem in many countries, including Italy. This is why Italy is active in searching and promoting appropriate solutions at both the national and international levels.
During our six-month Presidency of the European Union which ended only three months ago, Italy organized a meeting of European Ministers of Education and Labor to underline the need for synergies between educational and labor policies which is precisely the theme of this session. Social parties where actively involved in the Ministerial meeting since their cooperation is needed to design programs such as apprenticeships and professional training whose importance must be re-evaluated and strengthened. We also convened a Summit of EU leaders focused on unemployment, and particularly on youth employment, lending further momentum to the adoption of new approaches that can favor the matching of supply and demand in the job market also in terms of educational qualifications.
We also chose to address youth unemployment through a structural reform of our labor market policies. The Italian Government has adopted a fundamental reform of the national job market, known as the “Jobs Act” (welcomed by both the European Commission and the OECD), whose main objectives are the simplification and updating of labor regulations, as well as the optimization of active labor policies, a reorganization of the system of labor contracts, and the strengthening of mechanisms to favor life-work balance, particularly focusing on women’s employment. Less than one year since the launch of the reform we are already seeing positive results.
I would like to conclude by reiterating that, in addition to the necessary reforms on the supply side, we must improve the general economic climate, by sustaining aggregate demand and providing appropriate incentives for productive investments with a specific focus on small and medium companies and innovation.