Sunday, January 25, 2009

Global Financial Crisis is Having a Negative Effect on Africans Working Abroad

Wall Street Journal

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”) and the International Labour Organisation are now estimating that the world-wide unemployment number could reach a record 210 million people by the end of 2009. As the financial crisis wrecks havoc on economies throughout the world, many African emigrants working abroad are the first ones to loss their jobs. Stefano Scarpetta, a top unemployment specialist at the OECD, warned that "the first workers to be affected are the temps," and that immigrants, in particular, were at high risk of losing their jobs.

Spain offers an example of how the global financial crisis is affecting African emigrants. Many of Spain’s foreign workers come from Africa, but now that times are difficult, jobs are going to native Spaniards before African foreigners. During Spain’s last decade of booming growth, foreigners were encouraged to come supply labor in the agricultural and construction industries. The boom is now over, and Spain is facing a 14% unemployment rate. With more foreign workers than there are jobs available, Spain is offering to pay the foreign workers a lump-sum in order to encourage them to return to their home countries for at least three years.

The job prospects are not much better at home, however. Only some 1,400 foreigners took Spain’s offer and moved home. Many people, instead choose to live in the streets or in shelters as they try to weather the current economic hardships in their adopted Spain. Spain is but one country that is faced with too many foreign workers, and shows us just how far the reach is of the global credit crisis.

1) During the height of foreign supplied labor in Spain, the country gave amnesty to over 500,000 illegal foreign workers. Now that there is a shortage of jobs, these foreign workers are the first to be fired. Do you think this experience will make Spain more cautious about allowing foreign workers into the country in the future?
2) If more African emigrants cannot find work in their new countries how will they be able to send remittances back to their home country? Remember, remittances are often a big part of many developing countries’ economy.

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