Only about 25 percent of the world has a full-time job

P2P Chart

Take a look at that chart above — it shows the countries in the world with the highest P2P, or payroll to population, rates. P2P is measured by Gallup, usually as part of the ‘State of the Global Workforce’ rollout (which is essentially happening now-ish). The central takeaway from this data set is pretty simple: only about 25 percent of the entire world has a full-time job. (That’s about 1.3 billion people.)

P2P rates, which focus on the percentage of the adult population who works at least 30 hours per week, dropped 26 percent in 2012 — and they haven’t really come back up since.

Here’s a breakdown of what “high” and “low” P2P rates tend to mean:

The countries with the highest P2P rates tend to be some of the wealthiest — or those with the highest GDP per capita — such as the United Arab Emirates and the U.S. Additionally, a number of countries on the list, such as Sweden, Bahrain, and Russia, rank toward the top because each has many people working directly for the government or government-owned entities.

Countries with the lowest P2P scores tend to have large informal economies with high self-employment, which at the global level has a negative relationship with GDP per capita. In Nepal, for example, which has a 9% P2P rate and $690 per capita GDP, 38% of the adult population reports being “self-employed.” Similarly, Burkina Faso has a 5% P2P rate and $652 per capita GDP, and 28% of adults there are “self-employed.” This pattern is replicated in many sub-Saharan African countries, helping make the region’s 11% P2P rate the lowest of any region in the world. This rate is down slightly from 12% in 2012.

There are two basic things to remember about this picture:

1. No one really understands the unemployment rate, either in the U.S. or globally.

2. Gallup also does a ‘World Poll’ annually, and it regularly finds that the one thing — the one — that people want more than anything else is access to a good job. That will often outrank “water” and “sanitation” as concerns for people globally. Well, it looks like 200 million people globally were classified as unemployed in 2013 — and that probably underestimates what the real number is.

Phrased another way, the most important thing to most people globally … is only being achieved by about 1 in every 4 people globally (and let’s not get started on whether those with full-time employment think it’s a “good job,” because that speaks to engagement — and that’s another post).

If you’re thinking about that and scoffing at P2P as a metric, here’s Gallup’s reasoning behind using that:

If this is the new will of the world, better metrics are required on the global jobs situation — metrics that allow for direct country comparisons and correlate to GDP per capital. Payroll to Population is a start.

For additional context on methodology around all this, click here.


Ted Bauer