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Quality jobs grow developing economies and middle class, ILO says

Developing countries that invest in quality jobs are catching up with advanced economies, the UN's labor agency says. Its latest report also found the EU remains the favored destination for migrants.

Developing countries that

invested the most in so-called quality jobs

- those with higher productivity and a regular income - grew almost one per cent faster since 2007 than other emerging economies, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO).

The agency's annual

World of Work report

, released on Tuesday, found countries that created quality jobs, tackled poverty and took workers out of unstable employment fared better in the global financial crisis, than those who did not.

As a result, workers in developing countries are increasingly moving to better jobs and the middle class. The report found that per-capita income in countries like Senegal, Vietnam and Tunisia grew on average 3.3 per cent each year between 1980-2011 - much faster than the 1.8 per cent seen in advanced economies.

But 839 million people still earn less than $2 a day (1.46 euro) - a third of workers in the developing world. However this has fallen from more than half of workers since the early 2000s.

Some 1.5 billion people in developing countries are in unstable employment - without contracts and protections and often in poverty.

"Development doesn't happen through such things as exports, open trade and foreign direct investment on their own," said Guy Ryder, the ILO's Director-General.

"Social protection, respect for core labor standards and policies that promote formal employment are also crucial for creating quality jobs that raise living standards, increase domestic consumption and drive overall growth.

"Decent work opportunities for women and men help trigger development and reduce poverty," Ryder told reporters in Geneva.

Diversify spending and boost social protections

The ILO's report called for the scrapping of red tape to help entreprenuers get businesses running. The agency said it was important to create social protections, and combine these with efforts to boost agriculture as well as taking income from natural resources and spending it widely.

It held up Uruguay's "single tax" social protection scheme for the self-employed as a way to formal entrepreneurship.

The ILO noted that employment conditions between developed and non-developed economies had been rapidly converging, since the 2007 global financial crisis. While developed countries have seen their jobless rates rise, developing countries experienced only a brief spike before falling back to pre-crisis levels.

"Many developing countries, notably in Latin America and Asia, are making efforts to tackle inequalities and improve job quality as well as social protection," said lead author Moazam Mahmood.

"By contrast, a number of advanced economies, notably in Europe, seem to be going in the opposite direction," Mahmood said.

Patterns of migration

The change in opportunities is influencing migration patterns, the report found. Educated young people from crisis-hit countries are increasingly moving to and between emerging economies.

In 2013, 231.5 million people were living in a country other than the one in which they were born. The total number of migrants has risen by 57 million since 2000 - around a fifth of this increase has happened in the last three years.

The EU continues to be the destination of choice, with 51 per cent of migrants settling there.

Hope for the future

The ILO is also optimistic that most of the new jobs created in the near future will enable workers a decent living.

"For the first time in history, over the next several years, most new jobs in the developing world are likely to be of sufficient quality to allow workers and their families to live above the equivalent of the poverty line in the United States," it said. However the ILO acknowledged that 85 per cent of the developing world workforce would still live below the US-equivalent poverty line in 2018.

Some 213 million people are set to enter the labor market over the next five years, 200 million of those in developing countries.

jr/lw (AFP, International Labor Organization)

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