Unemployment is world's fastest-rising fear - survey


In many countries, unemployment has shot up as a key concern

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Unemployment is the world's fastest-rising worry, a BBC World Service survey covering 11,000 people in 23 countries suggests.

The annual poll, called The World Speaks, gave people a list of concerns and asked which they had discussed with friends or family in the past month.

Corruption and poverty still ranked the highest, but unemployment was mentioned by 18% - six times the rate citing it in the first survey in 2009.

The poll was carried out by Globescan.

The growth in concern was found across all countries surveyed, although corruption emerged as the most talked about global concern.

Nearly a quarter of those asked had discussed that topic in some form over the past four weeks.

Young jobless

Next came extreme poverty. One in five had talked about that subject recently.

Issues associated with inflation, such as higher food and energy prices, were on level pegging with unemployment in third place - with both topics mentioned by 18% of those surveyed.

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Concern about joblessness seemed to vary by country.

Top of the list was Spain, where 54% of those sampled said they had discussed unemployment recently, an increase of one-third on the previous year's BBC poll.

Spain is at the heart of the debt crisis in the eurozone and has the highest youth unemployment in the region at greater than 40%.

Ghana, Mexico, Nigeria and Turkey were among the other countries where this topic appeared a particular concern, with a third or more of those sampled saying they had discussed the issue in the month before the survey.

One could speculate that growing concern about the lack of jobs is linked to current economic worries, such as financial problems for euro currency and the resulting slowdown of major economies.

But there is no certainty about this.

The first annual survey published in 2009 coincided with possibly even greater economic global turbulence linked to the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers.

Corruption and poverty emerge as hardy perennials of global debate.

All three annual surveys carried out so far have shown these topics to be near the top of the list.

Regional differences

But the latest results show considerable differences between countries in the issues people find important.

In the US, France and Japan - all wealthy, developed nations - the state of the world economy emerged as the main talking point.

By contrast, corruption was the most frequently discussed issue in Nigeria, India, Turkey, Indonesia, Nigeria and Peru.

These are all developing nations, most with poor reputations for transparency in government and business.

In another group of developing countries, including China, Russia, Kenya and the Philippines, rising prices for food and energy were the main topic.

In Latin America, however, crime and violence emerged as commonly discussed themes.

Indeed in Brazil, famous for social tensions in its urban slums, along with Ecuador and Mexico, noted for drugs-related killings, crime and violence were the most talked-about subjects.

Changing perceptions

People in developed nations appeared more concerned about the longer-term, less immediate threat associated with climate change than those sampled in poorer, developing economies.

But almost everywhere global warming had slipped down the ranking of issues discussed in the last month.

The topic was the most frequently talked about issue in 10 nations in last year's survey, but this year climate change topped the list only in Germany and Britain.

Fieldwork for the latest poll was carried out between July and September of this year by the polling firm Globescan on behalf of the BBC.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    If people were willing to take shelf stacking jobs in a supermarket, or labourers in building sites,then unemployment would fall drastically

    You really don't know what you're talking about do you? Try to find a shelf-stacking or labouring job in ANY supermarket/site in SE England. There may be one or two as people retire or leave for other reasons but "fall drastically" no way!

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Re No 60 have tried for both with no luck
    No Job No savings and 65 pound a week to live on

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Worried about losing your job? Worried that despite 18hr working days, your effort will just not be deemed to be enough? Worried that you're actually expected to perform? Welcome to the real world, dear public sector worker! Those of us in the private sector have lived with this fear for decades!

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    If people were willing to take shelf stacking jobs in a supermarket, or as labourers in building sites, then unemployment would fall drastically. The issue is people feel that these jobs are beneath them so they go to cheap foreign employees.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Corruption and poverty go hand in hand. When the resources are illegally grabbed by some most of the country suffers from poverty. Unemployment is a way of life in corrupt countries. It may be new to Western Democracy. In India strong support to anti corruption movement comes from employed class but will spread to unemployed millions. in villages.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Instead of focussing on how many people are formally employed or unemployed, perhaps we should be looking at the relationship between imports and exports, immigration and emigration, and maybe stop using banks as an easy scapegoat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Two unrelated things that really irritate me..

    1) Companies misusing inter-company transfers to cut costs. Deeply antisocial.

    2) Having worked and paid tax for 25 years, if I get made redundant tomorrow, I'll get no more help than someone who has never worked ever. That's just counter-productive .

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    trying to ketchup on this blogitch, most waterbombs-rolling rockers in the Orange Counties, from good Old Continent tha', would know what to say. For at least one generation they're allowed to speak their minds once they have left the pram-age. This leads to a society so exciting you wouldn't think possible. Hey, they talk about each other, with fantasy, wit, natural intuition. Tip: visit Limburg.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    The criminal chaos caused the world over, many people have also died, been killed as a consequential result, including violence over rising & unaffordable food in many poorer countrys.
    YET, all those CEOs, financiers/bankers, credit rating agency personel who paid/earned themselves multiple $£millions, some over $400 million, get to keep the money & walk away with little more than a telling off

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    42 shoulder
    the problem is govt debt is only 1/6 of debt in uk
    we cannot pay down this debt and recover

    austerity should be the economic problem not solution

    it's default & BANKruptcy or high unemployment and low wages for decades

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    these are all 'signs of the times'.. but if you live in a manner whereby your concience is clear and you are engaged in seeking how best to serve others then you need have no fear.. I love my job which is about finding ways to support the long-term unemployed into the workplace... we need more poeple looking out for those who are low in spirit and confidence to help them to get used to working

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Re No 48 Know how you feel no job here also after one year of looking. I could/do filll my time as a volenteer worker helping the big society but this wont/will not pay my living costs. A total rethink is needed before things get to bad

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    It's about time capitalism-based societies are smashed to pieces. Governments and share-holders are taking it for granted that commoners will give them chances to control their greed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    To PeterM. I did emigrate. Educated with degree and years of experience in many roles. Couldn't even get a regular low skilled job as employers think "Guy with degree, won't stick around for minimum wage for long." Suspect overlooked for other jobs as I'm 47. Denied benefits after having worked for 35 years. Left homeless, had to live in a hostel for a year. UK lost a skilled worker. You idiot!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    I was made redundant over a year ago now through no fault of my own. I'm 51, have great qualifications, many skills and have applied for literally hundreds and hundreds of jobs. I've had 2 interviews in a year. Mostly you get now reply. You get no help whatsoever. I paid my taxes for 26 years and got JSA for 6 months, then nothing. It's very, very bad out there and will get a lot worse next year.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    greatest fear in the west -unemployment
    government policy in the west raise retirement age and bring on the austerity!
    if only democracy was of the people by the people for the people
    instead of the people by the "bankers" for the "bankers"

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    "Unemployment is world's fastest-rising fear - survey" - Wow, who'd have thought that....

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    After many years of full time work in retail I find myself unemployed at the age of 51.
    How I wish I could now receive the wages for all the unpaid work I did for the company.
    Anyone working in retail do not fall for l the it helps the company when you are asked to work extra for no pay they will just drop you no matter how hard you have worked for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Now Cameron is isolating us from Europe, we will see the true Tory face of unemployment. Some things don't change from the Thatcher years!


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