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Global Overview of Urban Labour Markets

October 2019

Exploring city labour markets can provide important insights for businesses, governments and other stakeholders in helping to better evaluate the socioeconomic standing of city economies. The report studies the labour market across the world’s cities, examining indicators such as labour productivity, wages and unemployment rates.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

Increase employment opportunities in business services for lessdeveloped cities

Local governments in developing citiesneed to increase the role Business Services play in their employment markets.As seen in advanced economies, employment in Business Services can help elevateproductivity levels which in turn can generate higher incomes. Through betterinfrastructure, more training and educational opportunities and improvement oflocal business environments, developing cities can transition towards becomingmore focused on services and away from less productive industries such as agricultureand low value-added manufacturing.

Increase the role of automation in North American and Europeancities

The economically active population in North American andEuropean cities is dwindling due to population ageing and high negative netmigration (more of an issue in Eastern European markets). This is subsequentlypushing ahead the agenda to automate certain jobs and segments of industry inorder to sustain the productivity of labour. This is going to open a new windowof opportunities towards the development of robotics, artificial intelligenceand machine learning -especially in automating tedious and repetitive jobs.

Education and training opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africancities

Sub-Saharan African cities contain some of the youngestpopulations compared to other parts of the world. However, unemployment ratesare also some of the highest in such markets. Providing more ample trainingopportunities and better access to education can be a great opportunity in suchmarkets where the proportion of the population aged over 15 with a highereducation is relatively low. For example, in Douala only 7.5% of the populationhad a higher education degree compared to 17% in Delhi or 20% in Buenos Aires. 

Areas of opportunity
Zurich’s average hourly wage above USD50
Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa cities top unemployment rates
Economically active populations largest in Asia Pacific cities
North American and Western European cities dominate business services
Key trends
Wage growth fastest in Eastern European and Asian cities
Case study : Prague approaching EU wage average
Manufacturing sees gradual decline in city economies
Case study: Delhi‘s employment in manufacturing sees steep fall
Economically active population growth largest in Asian cities
Case study: Labour shortages in advanced economy cities
Unemployed growth led by Venezuelan and Sub-Saharan African cities
Johannesburg’s unemployment nearing 30%
Western Europe
North America
Asia Pacific
Eastern Europe
Latin America
Sub-Saharan Africa
Labour pool and employment totals
Employment by sector
Employment rates
Wages and productivity


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