Global Shortfall of 1.8 Billion Jobs: How should we respond?

There is a global shortfall of about 1.8 billion good formal jobs, according to Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup.* That is nearly a quarter of the world’s population.

Many people live in the insecure informal job sector, which often is filled with survival activities in the form a subsistence business. Most people hope for a formal job, but many have no or little prospect to find one. And the problem is increasing.

50 million new jobs need to be created in the Arab world alone by 2020 and there is no indication of that happening. Unemployment rates are 24% in Egypt, 27% in Jordan, 30% in Tunisia, 39% in Saudi Arabia and 46% in Gaza. (The Economist 10 Sep 2011)

44 million people in the so called rich world are unemployed and another 11 million are underemployed. The human costs are enormous, for joblessness increases depression, divorce, substance abuse, etc.

Youth are disproportionately affected and it goes for both rich and poor countries. In Spain, for example, 46 percent of young people under the age of 25 are out of work. In South Africa it is over 50 percent.

The challenge is huge and global. What must be done?

Handouts do not give dignity – jobs do.**

Aid can ease problems temporarily but cannot create 1.8 billion new jobs.

Micro-loan programs can help, but tend to build the informal economy and thus run the risk of cementing people and nations I poverty.

Jim Clifton writes:” The demands of leadership have changed. The highest levels of leadership require mastery of a new task: job creation.”

But as we stress again and again in the global business as mission movement: We don’t want just any kind of jobs. The Mafia also creates jobs. The traffickers put people to work in the sex industry. No, we want to create jobs with dignity that add value to life, which bring good and holistic transformation to people and societies.

To this end we need innovators, entrepreneurs and mentors. One study referred to in The Economist (10 Sep 2011) “shows that between 1980 and 2005 all net new private-sector jobs in America were created by companies less than five years old”.

As stated in the Business as Mission Manifesto***:

We call upon the Church worldwide to identify, affirm, pray for, commission and release business people and entrepreneurs to exercise their gifts and calling as business people in the world – among all peoples and to the ends of the earth.

We call upon business people globally to receive this affirmation and to consider how their gifts and experience might be used to help meet the world’s most pressing spiritual and physical needs through Business as Mission.

Mats Tunehag

* Excerpted from The Coming Jobs War by Jim Clifton (Gallup Press, October 2011)

** John Paul II has written a brilliant encyclical on work and human dignity. Please see

*** The Business as Mission Manifesto can be found here:

Korean translation of this article is available here: