Employment in coops: how many jobs?

How many jobs worldwide are provided by cooperatives?  A new report, launched today in Quebec by the international worker cooperative federation CICOPA,  suggests that the answer could be 250 million – though in introducing the report CICOPA’s secretary general Bruno Roelants accepted that the lack of hard data meant that the figure was more of an estimate than a firm statistic.

Nevertheless, he said that CICOPA had accessed information from 74 countries, covering four-fifths of the world’s population. About 15.6 million people are direct employees of coops, and a further 10.8m are worker-members of worker cooperatives and coops offering shared ownership rights, he said. By far the bulk of the 250 million, however, comprise people who work, for example, as farmers, fishermen, and artisans,  as well as doctors and health workers, and who are self-employed but market their services or products collectively through jointly owned cooperatives.

The figure of 250 million represents a big advance of the previous statistic of 100 million often used in the past by the cooperative movement. Actually, the primary explanation is probably a simple one: China.  China’s significant agricultural cooperative sector now shows up in international statistics such as those CICOPA have developed.