26 million forced laborers.1
152 million child laborers.2
In September, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released two new reports on child labor and forced labor around the world: the eighth edition of the List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor and the 17th annual edition of the Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor.
“These reports represent one of the Department of Labor’s key contributions to the global effort to protect workers in the United States and around the world by defending the rights of all people to live free of child labor, forced labor, human trafficking, and modern slavery,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.
At the event marking the release of the publications, Elizabeth Garland, Senior Director at Verité, spoke about the role of civil society in helping to address child labor and forced labor risks, noting, “DOL/ILAB resources have become essential tools for supply chain risk screening, and provide a valuable framework for drawing industry attention to problems, and focusing government and company energy and efforts.”
42 new “line items” (commodities said to be produced with child and/or forced labor in a specific country) were added to this year’s List of Goods, including 10 new commodities: amber, bovines, cabbages, carrots, cereal grains, lettuce, mica, peppers, sheep, and sweet potatoes. As the evidence used by DOL most often comes from national-level prevalence surveys, new listings often reflect important advances in government data collection and transparency about labor issues, and not necessarily worsening conditions in a given industry.
Notably, the US DOL also de-listed several line items this year, including sugarcane in Panama, which previously had been included for child labor. The 2018 report also offers guidance on the requirements necessary in order for an industry to achieve de-listed status.
Of the 132 countries assessed in the Findings report, 13 percent made a significant advancement in their effort to eradicate the worst forms of child labor, 45 percent made a moderate advancement, and 41 percent made minimal to no advancement, with one percent (two countries) receiving no assessment.
Both reports are available in full online and are also accessible via the US DOL Sweat & Toil app, which includes research from both reports in a format that is easily sortable by date, region, country, good, and type of exploitation.
Citing the importance of the reports, Garland shared, “The TVPRA List and annual Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor have become crucial resources and touchstones for the work we all do.”
- International Labour Organization and Walk Free Foundation. Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage, International Labour Office, 2017, p.5.
- International Labour Organization. Global Estimates of Child Labour: Results and Trends, 2012-2016, International Labour Office, 2017, p.5.
Photo credit child laborer with bricks: africa924 / Shutterstock.com