GSO Commentary — Venez m’aider

Le Puddleur

This French phrase meaning “come and help me” was the original basis for the establishment nearly a century ago of “mayday” as an international distress signal. Juxtaposed with current events in Europe particularly and the world at large generally, it is a fitting call to policy makers on this First of May, 2012. May Day.  The celebration of  the traditional day to honor labour in many countries around the world is tempered by their soaring unemployment rates.  The average for Euro Zone countries has been moving up, and now stands at over 10 percent.  It is much higher in the southern rim countries, over 24 percent in Spain for example.   In Spain and Greece, half of the working youth under 25 years old are jobless.

In his May Day 2012 message, International Labour Organization Director-General Juan Somavia, calls out again, as he has so many times before since the financial crisis wreaked havoc on the workers of the world. Mayday. Venez m’aider.  He calls for a rethink of the global growth model, acknowledging that the current financially focused, GDP focused model has generated wealth, but emphasizes that the wealth has been increasingly concentrated into fewer and fewer hands.  He promotes an alternative global growth model that is focused on jobs and worker welfare.  He says that the current model loses sight of “the fact that quality work is a source of personal dignity, family stability, peace in the community and, certainly, a source of credibility for democratic governance.”  See his statement here.

The D-G’s statement followed the issuance of the ILO’s World of Work Report 2012:  Better Jobs for a Better Economy.  The report criticizes the European reliance on fiscal austerity and labour market reforms but also analyzes employment trends in other regions, including the US.  The inadequate jobs recovery, and especially the April jobs report in the US, is not necessarily driven by fiscal austerity or labour market reforms, of course, but rather it is tied to anemic growth in demand for goods and services and a lack of adequate financing and investment in small and medium enterprises.  Others, including our friends at the OECD, have noted the increasing proportion of long-term unemployed in the US and the serious concerns surrounding the loss of skills associated with this.

From the CMBD News 7 May 2012