Statistics on the informal economy

In many countries, informal employment represents a significant part of the economy and labour market and plays a major role in production, employment creation and income generation. However, informality puts workers at a higher risk of vulnerability and precariousness. Indeed, informality has a strong adverse impact on the adequacy of earnings, occupational safety and health and working conditions in general.

In the context of fragmented labour markets or insufficient social safety nets or where wages and/or working hours in formal jobs are low, workers may resort to informal employment. Thus, key labour indicators such as the unemployment rate and time-related underemployment would fail to convey a full picture of the labour market.

Statistics on informal employment provide valuable information on the quality of employment and are crucial to a comprehensive understanding of the labour market, in both developing and developed countries.

Featured publication

Women and men in the informal economy: A statistical picture, Third edition

This publication provides for the first time comparable estimates on the size of the informal economy and a statistical profile of informality in all its diversity at the global and regional levels.

Two billion workers — representing 61.2 per cent of the world’s employed population — are in informal employment.

The third edition of this work provides, for the first time, comparable estimates on the size of the informal economy and a statistical profile of informality in all its diversity at the global and regional levels. A common set of criteria to measure informal work has been applied to more than 100 countries, both developed and developing.