Just The Facts

7 Facts: The World’s Working Poor

Many of the world’s poorest workers have jobs, but their jobs don’t pay enough for them to escape poverty.

Credit: John Wollwerth www.shutterstock.com

Takeaways


  • The world's poor don't need more jobs as much as they need better-paying jobs.
  • The world's 375 million poorest workers outnumber the entire population of the United States by almost 60 million.
  • Should they lose their jobs, the world’s poorest workers are at constant risk of falling back into poverty.

1. In 2013, there were an estimated 375 million workers in the world who earned less than $1.25 per day (measured in terms of purchasing power parity).

2. These workers — who account for 12% of global employment — subsist on wages that do not even exceed the World Bank’s threshold for absolute poverty.

3. Put another way, the wages these workers earn are not enough to allow them and their families to escape the scourge of extreme poverty.

4. By this measure, the world’s 375 million poorest workers outnumber the entire population of the United States (316 million) by almost 60 million.

5. Another 464 million workers — a group that is 50% larger than the U.S. population — earn more than $1.25, but less than $2 a day.

6. Should they lose employment for any reason, these workers are at constant risk of falling back into extreme poverty.

The Upshot

Together, the 839 million workers who earn less than $2 a day is even larger than the population of the European Union (507 million) and the United States (316 million) combined.

Data source: Global Employment Trends 2014, International Labor Organization. Analysis by The Globalist Research Center.

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