Global Talent Update - April 2016

Europe, Middle East and Africa

The unemployment situations in both Europe and Africa have remained largely unchanged. While an employment freeze may be looming over the Middle East, the Turkish economy is strengthening.

The jobless rate across the eurozone fell to its lowest rate in nearly five years, reported The Economic Times. In February, the unemployment rate dropped to 10.3 per cent, bringing the number of those without jobs to 16.63 million. The Czech Republic and Germany saw the lowest rates of unemployment at 4.5 per cent and 4.3 per cent, respectively. A staggering 24 per cent jobless rate continues to wreck debt-laden Greece while Spain is not far behind, at 20.4 per cent.

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has called on European governments to act “more decisively,” reported the BBC. However, at a press conference later this week he is expected to assure investors, as well as the people, that the stimulus package is working thus far. Already, 80 billion euros in newly printed money are being pushed into the banking system through purchasing bonds from banks. Essentially, the goal is for banks to flush with cash to help lower rates, which will then lead to higher inflation and growth through more borrowing.

There was a burst of welcomed relief for the South African economy on April 20, as the rand strengthened - its third consecutive session of rallying, reported SABC News. Near the close of the day, the rand had gained 0.21 per cent to 14.2350 per dollar. This continued a two-week streak in which the rand has strengthened nearly 7.0 per cent. Moreover, thanks to the help of higher precious metals prices, specifically platinum, stocks rose to a one-month high.

Despite turmoil and crises within the country, the Turkish economy saw a sturdy 4 per cent growth in 2015 from the year previous, reported the Middle East Eye. An unexpected robust fourth quarter helped put those figures above predictions by analysts. In the last three months, the economy has grown 5.7 per cent from the same period last year. This was well beyond the market consensus and much higher than the 3.9 per cent from the third quarter of 2015.

Grappling with the actuality of perpetually lower oil prices, the Middle East has begun to seek support and bailouts. Iraq is nearing an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, which would make the country the first giant Arab oil producer to do so.  However, according to International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol, they may be acting too fast. On April 21, The Economic Times reported that Birol expects the oil market to return to normalcy by 2017. As long as there is no major economic downturn, he noted, the balance should even out by next year, thanks to oversupply.

Asia-Pacific

Employment growth in Asia-Pacific was mixed during recent months.

Australia posted strong employment growth in March as 26,100 jobs were added, beating the economist forecast that 17,000 jobs would be created, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. The employment gains caused the jobless rate to drop to its lowest level in two-and-a-half years. They also edged the national unemployment rate down from 5.8 per cent to 5.7 per cent, defying economists’ expectations that the rate would increase to 5.9 per cent during the month. Part-time employment increased by 34,900, although full-time positions declined by 8,800.

“As we saw over the latter part of 2015, job security plays a big part in household consumption,” commented Savanth Sebastian of CommSec in an interview with the source.

Malaysia saw a significant drop in online recruitment in February, noted The Malay Mail Online. Year-over-year, online hiring was down 39 per cent across industries and job types. The decline in recruitment over the Internet reflected a larger downturn in overall employment, and many employers have slashed their hiring efforts in response, the source reported. The news came as the Malaysian government announced that it would be reviewing nine labour legislations in 2017, in order to improve compliance with the Trans Pacific Partnership, reported New Straits Times Online.

In Japan, the number of foreign workers is expected to surpass 1 million for the first time in 2016, reported The Japan Times. The largest employers of foreign workers are small- and medium-sized manufacturers, though the service sector follows. The jobless rate in the country increased to 3.3 per cent in February from 3.2 per cent the month prior, according to Shanghai Daily. However, the number of employed persons in February was 63.51 million, a 0.5 per cent increase from the previous year.

Americas

Employment growth outpaced analyst forecasts in North America.

The employment outlook was also positive in the U.S., which saw nonfarm payrolls jump by 215,000 in March, exceeding economists’ estimates of 205,000 jobs added, reported Reuters. The gains were spurred in part by discouraged workers re-entering the labour force. Average hourly earnings also rose, increasing 7 cents following a drop in February. Reuters noted that the positive employment figures show a strengthening U.S. economy despite lagging economic growth abroad, however, the unemployment rate increased slightly to 5.0 per cent from 4.9 per cent the previous month. With the news, economists predict that the Federal Reserve will hold off from raising rates in the near future. However, an analysis by CME FedWatch asserted that there is a 65 per cent chance that rates will be raised in December, Reuters explained.

The World Bank predicted 2.5 per economic growth this year for Mexico and Central America. The Mexican unemployment rate fell to 4.15 per cent in February, down from 4.24 per cent the month prior. According to The Yucatan Times, the national unemployment rate fell to a six-year low at the close of last year, at 4.4 per cent.

Ecuador was voted the best country in the world for expats, followed by Mexico, according to a survey by Expat Insider. Mexico ranked eighth in the Job & Career subcategory, with 73 per cent of respondents stating that they are generally satisfied with their jobs, reported The Yucatan Times.

In January, Ecuador registered the lowest unemployment rate in Latin America, Telesur noted. “Suitable employment” in the country greatly increased in recent years, jumping from 39.18 per cent in 2009 to 46.50 per cent in 2015.