Gallup: Just 27% of world’s adults work full time for an employer

Job-seekers wait in a line at a job fair in Southfield, Mich., in 2011.
(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

Only 27% of people older than age 15 globally are working more than 30 hours a week for an employer, according to a new report from Gallup.

The percentage is highest in North America, where it’s 41%. But in sub-Saharan Africa, just 12% of adults work full time for a boss other than themselves.

The European Union has 32% of its population in such a situation. In the Middle East and North Africa, it’s 18%.

That excludes those who are self-employed, working part time, unemployed or out of the workforce. The measure, according to Gallup, “provides a more accurate picture of the true economic situation in a country because it is not affected by changes in the workforce participation rate.”


“When jobs are scarce, people may drop out of the workforce,” according to Gallup. “This can actually lead to an improvement in unemployment rates, even though fewer people are working.”

By that gauge, only Sweden, Belarus and Israel had more than half of their adult populations working full time for an employer.

The U.S. has 41%. The official national unemployment rate is 8.3% -- representing the proportion of people unemployed but actively looking for jobs compared to all individuals still in the labor force.

One measure of the job market this week showed employers still skittish. Help-wanted ads online dipped by 262,000 in July and August in the largest two-month drop since January-February 2009, according to the Conference Board.


By Gallup’s count, 20 countries had full-time employment rates of 10% or less – 15 of the in sub-Saharan Africa. Many workers in such countries are operating on their own, instead of being attached to a company.

“Self-employment in the developing world tends to be subsistence work and does little to help people rise out of poverty or contribute to the economic well being of the country,” according to Gallup.


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