BUSINESS

Unemployment Is The World's Fastest-Rising Concern: Study

12/12/2011 12:33 pm ET

Worried about making ends meet? You're not alone.

Unemployment is the fastest-rising concern around the globe, suggesting the softening global job market has come to affect daily life in a way it hadn't two years ago, according to a BBC poll released Monday. Worries about poverty, rising food prices, as well as corruption among people in power also rank as some of the most common fears, the poll found.

The results seem to depict a world where people are suspicious of their leaders' integrity and anxious about their own ability to afford life's basic necessities. Other concerns appear on the list including crime, war, education, the environment but overall, the responses suggest that people feel neither secure in their own finances nor confident that those in power are looking out for them.

According to surveys conducted in 19 countries by the polling firm Globescan for BBC, people are most worried about corruption and greed, followed by extreme poverty, rising food and energy prices and unemployment.

Concerns about all of these subjects appear to be more widespread than last year. Unemployment has taken a remarkable jump in the BBC survey since 2009, when only 3 percent of people mentioned it unprompted. It's since risen to 18 percent -- a sixfold increase.

It's possible that more people are more worried about unemployment this year because of the acceleration of the European debt crisis, which has imperiled several of the world's largest economies and threatened to send the eurozone -- and with it, likely the rest of the world -- into a pronounced downturn.

Other factors might include a sluggish economic recovery in the U.S. and a drop-off in China's growth.

Joblessness in the United States has been elevated for several years, and it's unclear how political leaders intend to correct the situation. The most recent monthly report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a surprising drop in the unemployment rate, but economists say a large part of that decrease was due to discouraged job-seekers finally giving up on their search for work.

That 2011's poll results should show a global population feeling squeezed and disenfranchised is perhaps not surprising. There have been hundreds of popular uprisings and demonstrations this year, from the England riots to the Middle East revolutions to the Occupy protests and encampments that have taken root in communities around the world.

In countless cases, what has reportedly fueled these protests is frustration over a lack of economic opportunities, coupled with a widespread distrust of people in positions of political and financial power.

The feelings of deprivation shared by many around the world are supported by the facts. Income inequality -- the gap between the richest and poorest members of a population -- has risen in more than a dozen of the world's largest economies in the past 25 years, and is a prominent feature in many developing nations as well, according to a recent report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

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