The International Labour Organization estimates that a record 200 million people will be unemployed around the world in 2013.

Think about that. Two hundred million people. There are 7 billion people on the planet, and census data shows about 4 billion of them are between the working ages of 15 and 64. Subtract those in school and those who are not looking for work (largely in countries with low female labor-participation rates), and you can see how the global unemployment rate could be something like 7% to 8%.

One way to put the size of the world's 200 million unemployed into perspective is to give them their own country. We'll call it Unemployistan.

Just how big is Unemployistan? It's the fifth-largest country in the world by population:




1.3 billion


1.2 billion

United States

316 million


238 million


200 million


194 million


182 million


167 million


153 million

This is truly tragic. Regions of the world -- particularly parts of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East -- have unemployment rates deep into the double-digits.

And this doesn't include those working for meager wages. Keep in mind that to be in the top half of the globe, you need to earn just $1,225 a year. For the top 20%, it's $5,000 per year. Enter the top 10% with $12,000 a year. To be included in the top 0.1% requires an annual income of $70,000 -- and all of those figures are adjusted for cost-of-living differences.

If you're reading this article before work, during work, or after work, be thankful. One of the world's largest countries can't say the same. 


The article Unemployistan: The World's Newest (and Saddest) Country originally appeared on

Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Portfolio Basics

What are stocks? Learn how to start investing.

View Course »

Introduction to Preferred Shares

Learn the difference between preferred and common shares.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum