Increasing labour productivity, reducing the unemployment rate, especially for young people, and improving access to financial services and benefits are essential components of sustained and inclusive economic growth.
- The average annual growth rate of real GDP per capita worldwide was 1.6 per cent from 2010 to 2015, compared to 0.9 per cent in 2005-2009. In the least developed countries, the per capita growth rate accelerated from 3.5 per cent in 2000-2004 to 4.6 per cent in 2005-2009, before slowing to 2.5 per cent in 2010-2015. Overall average annual GDP growth in the least developed countries followed a similar trend, decelerating from 7.1 per cent in 2005 -2009 to 4.9 per cent in 2010-2015, below the Sustainable Development Goals target of 7 per cent.
- Labour productivity (annual growth rate of real GDP per worker) globally has slowed from an average annual rate of 2.9 per cent from 2000 to 2008 to 1.9 per cent from 2009 to 2016. The slowdown represents a negative development for the global economy, with adverse effects on living standards and real wages.
- The global unemployment rate stood at 5.7 per cent in 2016, with women more likely to be unemployed than men across all age groups. Youth were almost three times as likely as adults to be unemployed, with unemployment rates of 12.8 per cent and 4.4 per cent, respectively, in 2016. Moreover, in more than 76 per cent of countries with data, more than 1 in 10 youth are neither in the educational system nor working. Young women are more likely than young men to fall into that category in almost 70 per cent of countries with data.
- While the number of children from 5 to 17 years of age who are working has declined from 246 million in 2000 to 168 million in 2012, child labour remains a serious concern. More than half of child labourers (85 million children) participate in hazardous work and 59 per cent of them work in the agricultural sector. Girls have made greater progress than boys, with the number of girls engaged in child labour declining by 40 per cent during the period 2000-2012, compared to a decline of 25 per cent for boys.
- Access to financial services enables individuals and firms to manage changes in income, deal with fluctuating cash flows, accumulate assets and make productive investments. Access to financial services through automated teller machines increased by 55 per cent worldwide from 2010 to 2015. Commercial bank branches grew by 5 per cent during the same period, with the lower growth explained by increased digital access to financial services. Globally, there were 60 automated teller machines and 17 commercial bank branches per 100,000 adults in 2015. From 2011 to 2014, 700 million adults became new account holders and the share of adults with an account at a financial institution increased from 51 per cent to 61 per cent.
- After contracting slightly in 2014, aid for trade rose 5.4 per cent in real terms to reach $53.9 billion in 2015 owing to a recovery in commitments for trade-related infrastructure and further growth in support of banking and agriculture. Aid for trade commitments to the least developed countries increased in 2015 by $4.3 billion, reaching $17.2 billion. The Enhanced Integrated Framework, an aid-for-trade programme dedicated to those countries, started its second phase in 2016 and will run to 2022. Donor commitments to the Framework stood at $55.3 million in 2016, with $17.3 million already disbursed to the Trust Fund.
Source: Report of the Secretary-General, "Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals", E/2017/66
- Sustained and inclusive economic growth is necessary for achieving sustainable development. The global annual growth rate of real GDP per capita increased by 1.3 per cent in 2014, a significant slowdown compared to 2010 (2.8 per cent growth) and 2000 (3.0 per cent growth). Developing regions grew far faster than developed regions, with average annual growth rates in 2014 of 3.1 per cent and 1.4 per cent, respectively.
- Labour productivity (measured by GDP per worker) spurs economic growth. Growth in labour productivity in developing regions far outpaced that of developed regions, especially in Asia. Between 2010 and 2015, labour productivity grew by 0.9 per cent per year, on average, in developed regions, while rising by 6.7 per cent per year, on average, in Eastern Asia, the region with the fastest growth. Despite rapid growth in some developing regions, labour productivity remains far higher in the developed regions. In 2015, the average worker in developed regions produced 23 times the annual output of an average worker in sub-Saharan Africa (which has the lowest labour productivity in developing regions), and 2.5 times that of an average worker in Western Asia (which has the highest labour productivity in developing regions).
- The global unemployment rate stood at 6.1 per cent in 2015, down from a peak of 6.6 per cent in 2009, mostly owing to a decline in unemployment in the developed regions. Unemployment affects population groups differently. Globally, women and youth (aged 15 to 24) are more likely to face unemployment than men and adults aged 25 and over. In all regions, except Eastern Asia and the developed regions, the unemployment rate among women is higher than that of men. In almost all regions, the rate of youth unemployment is more than twice that of adults.
- Although the number of children engaged in child labour declined globally by one third from 2000 to 2012 (from 246 million to 168 million), more than half of child labourers in 2012 (85 million) were engaged in hazardous forms of work. The incidence of child labour was highest in sub-Saharan Africa, where 21 per cent of children were employed as child labourers. Of all child labourers worldwide, 59 per cent were engaged in agricultural activities in 2012.
- While economic growth and employment are important for economic security, access to financial services is an essential component of inclusive growth. Between 2011 and 2014, the proportion of the world’s adult population with an account at a financial institution or a mobile money service provider increased from 51 per cent to 62 per cent, meaning that 700 million adults became account holders during this period. Financial exclusion disproportionately affected women and the poor. The proportion of women who are account holders is 9 percentage points lower than the proportion of men who are account holders. Moreover, the proportion of account holders among the poorest 40 per cent of households is 14 percentage points lower than among those living in the richest 60 per cent of households.
- In 2014, aid for trade assistance was $54.8 billion, an increase of almost 120 per cent over the period from 2002 to 2005. However, total commitments fell slightly (by $1 billion) in 2014 compared to 2013, driven mainly by a $4.7 billion drop in support for transport and storage. A total of 146 developing countries received aid for trade assistance in 2014, with lower-middle-income countries receiving 39.4 per cent of the total, the least developed countries receiving 26.3 per cent and upper-middle-income countries receiving 19 per cent. On a per capita basis, however, the least developed countries received $10 per capita, more than any other income group and more than twice the global average.