Sustainable Development Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth


Economic growth is essential for improving people’s everyday lives. However, many workers are subject to unsafe conditions; in a study based on data from 55 countries, there was a median of three deaths and 889 non-fatal injuries per 100,000 employees. The world’s problem with informal employment also remains largely unsolved, jeopardizing the safety and basic rights of two billion people globally. In 2018, women were twice as likely than men to be without a job, education, or training. To address these problems with economic growth, the UN has put in place SDG 8.

The Goal 

SDG 8 seeks to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.

Targets and Indicators 

SDG 8 has twelve targets, or smaller goals beneath the entire goal itself. One target sets the goal of increased economic productivity, involving diversification, technology, and emphasizing high value-added, labor-intensive sectors. Another target focuses on promoting development policies that will lead to productivity, the generation of decent jobs, and formalized small and medium-sized enterprises. Yet another target aims to substantially reduce the number of youth without a job, education, or training by 2020. Indicators for SDG 8, numbers that can tell us if we are on track to meeting the goal, include the proportion of youth without a job and the unemployment rate.

What’s Already Being Done

While the global economy has been growing, it has been doing so much slower than in previous years. While labor productivity has continued to grow, the rate of unemployed young people has remained around 22 percent since 2005. Progress is being made, but the projected rates are not rising quickly enough to meet many of the targets.

Still, the world is making headway on SDG 8. Women in Informal Employment: Global Organizing, or WIEGO, is a nonprofit working to help people in the informal economy. WIEGO gives all informal workers a voice, visibility, and helps increase the validity of their jobs to make them safer. They do this by empowering informal workers’ organizations, expanding the knowledge base, and influencing policy from the local to international levels. 

Applying It: How Everyone Can Help

While SDG 8 cannot be met without the hard work of governments and big organizations, there are things you can do to help! You can stay educated about the issue, spread the word, and shop locally. You can also donate to or volunteer with organizations like WIEGO, stay informed about what is being done for informal workers in your community, and pay attention to relief programs for informal workers after an economic crisis. Lastly, use your voice to advocate for women, youth, informal workers, and other populations vulnerable to economic inequity. Though small, these steps can help the world achieve SDG 8!

Think Further

  1. What is one thing you can personally do to promote decent work and economic growth?
  2. Why do you think women are particularly vulnerable to unemployment? 
  3. What other demographics do you think are most likely to be informally employed?


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Learn More

  1. Bruce, Nasir. “Changing Lives Through Employment.” Maryland New Directions. Accessed May 27, 2020.
  2. “Goal 8 .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.” United Nations. United Nations. Accessed May 27, 2020.
  3. “The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World – United Nations Sustainable Development.” United Nations. United Nations. Accessed May 27, 2020.
  4. Vryenhoek, Leslie. “Homepage.” WIEGO. Accessed May 27, 2020.