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Youth Employment in Asia: 12 Things to Know

Article | 10 April 2012

Youth employment is crucial to a nation's development but the region's young people are increasingly struggling to find a decent job. Here are 12 facts and figures about this pressing issue.

  1. Developing higher quality employment for the youth is very important for a country to make the transition from low-, to middle-, then to high-income status.
    Source: ADB. 2008. Asian Development Outlook 2008
  2. The youth make up 18% or 650 million of the total population of Asia and the Pacific region. Of these, over 200 million are estimated to live in urban areas.
    Source: The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). Youth Employment in the Asia-Pacific Region: Prospects and Challenges
  3. Youths - defined as being aged 15 to 24 - make up nearly 20% of the population of People's Republic of China and India.
    Source: United Nations. Regional Overview : The State of Youth in Asia and the Pacific
  4. 900,000 young workers enter the labor force each year in the Philippines. The ability of employers to generate higher quality jobs depends on labor productivity growth.
    Source: ADB. 2011. Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2011
  5. Young people account for almost half the region's jobless.
    Source: United Nations. Regional Overview : The State of Youth in Asia and the Pacific
  6. In 2010, youth unemployment affected 13.6% in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, 9.9% in South Asia and 8.8% in East Asia.
    Source: ADB. 2011. Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2011
  7. Korea has suffered from problems with youth unemployment, a pattern that began before the economic crisis in 2009. Beginning in 2001, firms were hiring older and more experienced workers while avoiding young workers to minimize training costs of new workers. When the crisis struck, the workers that were laid off were those who were near retirement and the very new workers, usually aged 15 to 19.
    Source: ADB. 2009. How Has Asia Fared in the Global Crisis? A Tale of Three Countries: Republic of Korea, Philippines, and Thailand
  8. Substandard education and training are pushing poor, young workers into informal sector jobs, often at low pay and in miserable working conditions.
  9. Alarm bells about the destabilizing implications of large numbers of jobless young men have been sounded in several studies. Asia's newest country, Timor-Leste, has a youth unemployment rate of 40%, and its capital Dili has been beset by destabilizing periods of street conflict.
    Source: Development Asia
  10. The task of creating decent employment opportunities is daunting and highlights the need for policymakers to expand access to education at all levels and to adapt technical, vocational, and higher education to changing labor market requirements.
    Source: ADB. 2011. Social Protection in the Asia Pacific Region from the Perspectives of Workers, the Youth, and the Aged
  11. The "youth bulge" has enormous potential for stimulating economic growth through productive employment, asset creation, and investment.
  12. ADB's Social Protection Strategy supports policies and programs that facilitate employment and promote better operation of labor markets.
    Source: ADB. 2001. Social Protection Strategy