In Britain today several million people are unemployed. In the industrialised countries as a whole the number runs into tens of millions. For third world countries the situation is even worse. In 1982 the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimated that a thousand million new jobs would have to be created by the year 2000 in order to achieve full employment worldwide. The Director-General of the ILO commented at the time: “It has to be fully understood that there will be no situation of full employment if we are speaking of conventional employment.”1* Things have got worse, not better, since then.
Most conventional politicians and economists still seem to claim, though with diminishing assurance, that their particular policies will bring back full employment in the long run. But, year by year, more and more people see these claims as utopian wishful thinking, if not downright deception. The impact of labour-saving technology, the competitive pressures of international trade, and the reluctance of taxpayers to finance more public service jobs, clearly suggest that, if substantial economic growth ever does come back as we still understand it, much of it is likely to be jobless growth. More and more people now feel in their bones, not only that many years of high unemployment lie ahead, but that full employment will never return again. They yearn for realistic and responsible leaders who will admit this possibility, and be prepared to respond to the new situation it implies.
From the book Future Work, by James Robertson
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