Tuesday, 22 September 2009

ILO G20 report, and the UK

The ILO has published a report in advance of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh later this week. The report, Protecting people, promoting jobs: A survey of country employment and social protection policy responses to the global economic crisis, compares measures taken by 54 countries in the wake of the global recession. It makes interesting reading.

Apologies for being a bit nationalistic, but here in short is what it shows about the UK:
  • UK unemployment is slightly below the G20 average of 8.5%
  • However, UK unemployment has risen more quickly in the last year than on average: up 38% here, compared to the average of 29.6%
  • We are one of the select few countries where manufacturing has fallen more than 10% in the last year - alongside the US, Spain and Canada
  • Of the countries that have had similar declines in GDP to the UK (i.e. more than 4%) only Spain has also had such a "sharp" increase in unemployment. Germany, Italy and Japan have all managed to stop job losses rising so quickly with comparable GDP drops.
The report also shows that many countries have done more to expand welfare programmes: for instance France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Hungary, Japan and Canada have all increased the coverage of unemployment benefits - Canada, the US and the Czech Republic have all increased the value of unemployment benefit; Japan and the Netherlands have introduced measures to protect migrant workers.

My favourite graph though is on page 20 of the report about comparable fiscal stimulus packages for 2008-10. Here the UK is well below the average, committing only 1% of GDP, compared with over 1.5% in Denmark, Germany, Finland, Sweden, New Zealand and Spain; and over 2% in Canada, Japan, Australia, the US and South Korea.

Why is it, despite Brown's modest press briefings at the G20 in London, that the UK cannot do more? It might be to do with the massive debt from our dodgy banks which were deregulated under Brown's chancellorship, and bailed out at huge cost under his Premiership.

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