Given the stubborn problems with unemployment in the United States and Europe, economists are looking for signs that emerging economies can continue their recovery from the global recession and offer U.S. manufacturers opportunities for exports and high-growth investments.
There is a modest encouragement from a recent World Bank report which shows that the gross domestic product of 10 middle-income countries grew by 4.8% in the third quarter of 2011, compared to 4.2% in 2010. A fall in the median unemployment rate accompanied this growth, from 6.9% in 3Q 2010 to 6.0% in the third quarter of last year.
However, the "Job Trends" report from the World Bank noted that these "encouraging signs have yet to translate into improvements in median employment and wage growth, which remain sluggish." Employment growth rose only 2% and wage growth was less than 1%.
The countries covered in this sample were Armenia, Belarus, Brazil, China, Chile, Colombia, Lithuania, Mexico, Romania and Russia.
Looking more broadly at 23 emerging markets, the World Bank reported that urban China had GDP growth of 9.1% in the third quarter and employment growth of 4.3%. Wages also continued their steady climb, up 14.7% in the quarter compared to 13.1% in the same period a year ago.
In Latin America, the report showed that the "rapid recovery from the crisis has begun to moderate." Brazil's GDP grew 2.1%, compared to 6.7% in 3Q 2010. Chile's economy also cooled, from 6.9% in 3Q 2010 to 4.8% in 3Q 2011. However, most of the region saw small reductions in unemployment.
Russia experienced GDP growth of 4.8% in the quarter, but wage growth plummeted to -1.2% and the country saw virtually no increase in employment growth.
Turkey showed strong growth, with GDP rising from 5.3% in 3Q 2010 to 8.2% in 3Q 2011. Employment grew by 7%, unemployment fell to 9.2% and the country saw wage growth of 14.4%.
Noting the lingering threats to the global economy, Dr. Otaviano Canuto, vice president and head of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) Network, blogged that one key question for 2012 is whether these emerging markets will be able to "partially cushion the potential impact of things getting wors in the Eurozone and elsewhere." Canuto said he was "confident that emerging economies will eventually carry the day."