United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

Targets and Indicators



Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries


Annual growth rate of real GDP per capita



Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors


Annual growth rate of real GDP per employed person



Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services


Proportion of informal employment in non‑agriculture employment, by sex



Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead


Material footprint, material footprint per capita, and material footprint per GDP


Domestic material consumption, domestic material consumption per capita, and domestic material consumption per GDP



By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value


Average hourly earnings of female and male employees, by occupation, age and persons with disabilities


Unemployment rate, by sex, age and persons with disabilities



By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training


Proportion of youth (aged 15-24 years) not in education, employment or training



Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms


Proportion and number of children aged 5‑17 years engaged in child labour, by sex and age



Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment


Frequency rates of fatal and non-fatal occupational injuries, by sex and migrant status


Increase in national compliance of labour rights (freedom of association and collective bargaining) based on International Labour Organization (ILO) textual sources and national legislation, by sex and migrant status



By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products


Tourism direct GDP as a proportion of total GDP and in growth rate


Number of jobs in tourism industries as a proportion of total jobs and growth rate of jobs, by sex



Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all


Number of commercial bank branches and automated teller machines (ATMs) per 100,000 adults


Proportion of adults (15 years and older) with an account at a bank or other financial institution or with a mobile-money-service provider



Increase Aid for Trade support for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries


Aid for Trade commitments and disbursements



By 2020, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization


Total government spending in social protection and employment programmes as a proportion of the national budgets and GDP

Progress and Info

Before the pandemic hit in 2020, average growth of the economy had already slowed. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the worst global economic recession since the Great Depression and massive damage to working time and income. In 2020, 8.8% of global working hours were lost (relative to the fourth quarter of 2019), equivalent to 255 million fulltime job, which is approximately four times greater than the loss during the global financial crisis in 2009. Young workers and women were particularly hard hit by the crisis in the labour market. The global economy is slowly recovering, although it may remain below pre-pandemic trends for a prolonged period.

Following an average growth of about 2% from 2014 to 2018, global real GDP per capita increased by only 1.3% in 2019 and is estimated to decline by 5.3% in 2020 due to the COVID19 pandemic. Global real GDP per capita is projected to increase again by 3.6% in 2021 and 2.6% in 2022.

The real GDP of LDCs increased by 4.8% in 2019 and is estimated to decline by 1.3% in 2020 because of the disruption unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to the onset of the pandemic, informal employment represented 60.2% of global employment, which means that 2 billion people worldwide worked in the informal economy in jobs that are characterized by a lack of basic protection, including social protection coverage. More than three-quarters of them, or 1.6 billion informal economy workers, were significantly impacted by the pandemic-related lockdown measures and/or working in the hardest-hit sectors. They face a high risk of falling into poverty and will experience greater challenges in regaining their livelihoods during the recovery period.

The median gender pay gap in countries with data around 2017 (based on hourly earnings) is close to 12%, meaning that in half of all countries with data, women’s hourly earnings are on average 12% lower than men. However, this gender pay gap is a raw calculation based on average hourly earnings without controlling for sector, occupation, educational level or work experience. A global study done by the ILO found a factor-weighted gender pay gap of 19%. In 87% of countries with recent data, professionals earn per hour on average more than double what workers in elementary occupations earn.

Global unemployment increased by 33 million in 2020, with the unemployment rate increasing by 1.1 percentage points to 6.5%. However, unemployment numbers reflect only a small proportion of the jobs lost in the COVID-19 crisis. A further 81 million people became inactive as they could not see any opportunity to search for a job successfully, or they were simply unable to do so owing to the COVID-19 restrictions. Youth and women were particularly hard hit by the crisis, with employment losses in 2020 of 8.7% and 5.0% respectively, as opposed to 3.7% for adults and 3.9% for men.

In 2019, more than one in five of the world’s youth were not in employment, education or training (NEET), almost unchanged since 2005. Quarterly figures show the rate increased from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2020 in 42 out of 49 countries with data. Since young women were already twice as likely to be jobless and not in education nor training than young men, and as women have been disproportionally pushed into inactivity during the pandemic, the COVID-19 crisis is likely to worsen the NEET gender gap among youth.

The level of national compliance with fundamental labour rights (freedom of association and collective bargaining) had little change between 2015 and 2018.

Global tourism GDP had increased at a higher rate than the rest of the economy over the decade preceding 2019, representing 4.1% of global GDP in 2019, compared to 3.7% in 2008. However, as one of the hardest hit sectors by COVID-19, a reversal in this trend is expected for 2020 and the coming years. Globally, international arrivals decreased by 74% in 2020 compared to 2019, which translates into a loss of $1.3 trillion in inbound tourism expenditure, more than 11 times the loss experienced from the 2009 global crisis. An estimated 100 to 120 million tourism jobs have been put at risk due to the pandemic, disproportionally affecting women. While this affects virtually all countries in the world, SIDS are most dramatically affected.

Globally, the number of ATMs per 100,000 adults grew by more than 50% during the past decade, from 45 in 2010 to 69 in 2019. In the case of commercial bank branches, however, there was a slight reversal in trend with the 2019 level being slightly lower than that observed in 2010.

In 2019, aid for trade commitments decreased by 6% to $53 billion (based on current prices). The most represented sectors were energy (27.9% of total aid for trade), transport and storage (22.6%) and agriculture (17.8%).

In 2020, almost one third of the 107 countries with data have formulated and operationalized a youth employment strategy, while 44 (41.1%) of them have such strategies but did not provide conclusive evidence on their implementation, and just under a quarter of them (24.3%) are in the process of developing one.

Source: Advance unedited copy of 2021 report of the Secretary-General on Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals