ILO: Economy tied to Middle East unrest

June 4, 2013 at 12:17 PM
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GENEVA, Sweden, June 4 (UPI) -- Economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa may have improved but political factors mean the region is still fragile, a labor report said.

The International Labor Organization published its 115-page "World of Work Report 2013," saying the unemployment situation worldwide remains "uneven" more than five years after the onset of the global financial crisis.

The ILO found weaknesses in the labor market as a whole, saying unemployment levels should increase short-term. It said nearly 208 million people won't have adequate employment in 2015, 8 million more than at the time of publication Monday.

The ILO said there was a link between social unrest, political freedoms and the job market.

A street vendor in Tunisia in December 2011 committed suicide to protest economic conditions. The self-immolation sparked a wave of political upheaval that toppled governments known as the Arab Spring.

"While growth prospects have improved in this region since the Arab Spring, political struggles continue in many countries, which tends to be manifested in people's perception of freedom in their lives," the ILO report said.

ILO said most of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa saw poverty rates decrease.

"Nevertheless, the situation remains fragile, as the role of government as the main jobs creator still remains important in terms of the overall size of the middle-income group," the ILO report said.

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