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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High youth unemployment is one of the biggest problems confronting societies around the world, condemning whole generations to a life of much reduced income.

In our special report we look at the challenges facing today's young and jobless, and the attempts to overcome the problem.

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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 103.

    I would like a job to lose. I have the fear I will never have a job. I went to University for 7 years have a 1st class degree and PhD in physics. Any jobs that look these sorts of qualifications, aren't really for the likes of me, I'm from a poor family and my face doesn't fit. So I am left with poor paid unskilled work, but I can't get these jobs because I'm over qualified.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Now we are the outcasts of Europe perhaps we need to send home the hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans and have UK citizens take these jobs

    +Trouble is that the UK has been utterly negligent in promoting training/apprenticeships for plumbers,electricians/joiners etc. Gov is always spouting about apprenticeships but WHERE ARE THEY? Until sorting that out we can't win.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    It's also a myth that 'all UK workers are lazy' & 'want to be on benefits' instead of working when they can. A minority are like that but most people are hard working - we shouldn't forget that.

    98 Raymond Hopkins - Glad your happy in your new country - where did you emigrate too?

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    It's all part of the economic scheme/scam and we are all part of it, people around the world have different things to worry about depending on their circumstances, in Mexico I worry about security and corruption, Europeans worry about employment and environment, but I think behind it all lies the preemptive factor, I'm no commie but capitalism is indeed organized crime. Think fair and sustainable

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    89 vermillion zero
    "And then the gov raises the retirement age!
    Pillockry if you ask me."

    As you are not contributing to my pension (and I will still be working until I am 70 because I will not be able to afford to stop before then) please convince me why I should then pay for your early retirement. Because I cannot see how that is fair.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    32. PeterM
    If you aren't good enough for the job, or there is pressure on job numbers - tough luck. If you feel hard done by that then leave; emigrate and live your days out happy somewhere else.
    Emigrate? I did. Live out my days happily? I am. The reason is, that the country I presently live in values me far more than the one I was born in, feeling that we are all responsible for each other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    "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"

    Not quite true, as you can only get JSA if you've paid NI. However, you still only get £64/week whether you've worked 25 years or 2 years. And there's no help if you've got a mortgage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    I always leave my Job in the same place, that way I'm less likely to lose it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Where does this myth come from that 'the UK doesn't make anything anymore'? One of my brothers works in a facory that makes kitchens, the other in a food factory. I know a great deal of our heavy industry was dismantled in the 80's however we do still produce things if you look around you. Try to 'buy British' where you can instead of buying stuff shipped in from overseas & support industry here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.


    If low wage slavery is fueling a bonanza for shareholders why has the FTSE fallen about 300 points over the last twelve months?"

    Considering several EU countries have gone bankrupt in that time, plus our media is forever talking down the economy, a 5% drop year-on-year isn't too bad actually.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Denied JSA which wasn't claimed as insolvency prationer said not to claim until the notice period was up, even though no notice given on a companies collapse.
    Appealed to DWP early October. To date they haven't even had the common courtersy to give an answer. When called them was told by drone, that would get a letter - eventually!
    They are SO uncaring!

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Now we are the outcasts of Europe perhaps we need to send home the hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans and have UK citizens take these jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    I was lucky and was never un-employed.
    Spent 44 years in the Merchant Navy away from wife and children for 6-8 months each year working just before retirement 84 (yes 84) hour weeks 7 days 12 hours a day.
    Now retired with a good pension which I worked very hard for. My worry is that all pensions are linked to the stock market and if that collapses I end up with nothing. Isn't life just wonderful

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Ever increasing demand on "profits" and "financial analysts" are major causes. It does not matter if a comany makes multi £bn profits,if the analyst thinks that is not enough - jobs are cut, which leads to a reduction in service, increased hours and pressure on existing employees.
    A clamp down on companies whom force their employees to work extensive unpaid hours is required too boost everything

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    employment should be a right to all that want it not just a privilege

    = Utterly true and while Liebour tried to do something, the"Tory media machine" has whipped up such hysteria against the public sector that all others applaud its downfall. And then the gov raises the retirement age!
    Pillockry if you ask me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    Time to dust off my worn copy of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, methinks. It is becoming ever more relevant. If you haven't read it, now would be a good time to get acquainted with the work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    All well and good say buy british go in any store and see the boxes thge goods come in that will put you right if its british only we could buy it cannot due to european legislation we cant even build our own trains?

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    The reason we have no manufacturing capability in this country is because unions have made the cost of labour far too high to make it viable. The abolition of unions would aid the economic recovery enormously. Their politically driven agenda is very unhelpful in tough times.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Maybe there would be more jobs if UK companies, such as BT and BARCLAYS BANK didn't relocate their call centres to India, in order to increase the profits for their share holders.

    Such greed and the fact that it was allowed to happen in the first place, is part if the reason why we find ourselves in this position.

    These companies make huge profits out of UK citizens, so have a moral obligation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Absolutely, Nokiddin. Almost all people don't give a first thought nowadays. A little change of perspective et voilà, suddenly it makes all the difference. ..just pondering. It proves so demanding that the majority has forgotten all basic knowledge to start with. Qed, inni??


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