If you think 168 million 5-17 year-old children working below the legal minimum age sounds like a lot, it is. But it's a number that's considered progress by the United Nations. In a new report, the U.N. says that the number of child laborers globally has declined from 246 million in 2000 and the number of children working in the most hazardous conditions has fallen from 171 million in 2000 to 85 million in 2012. Both numbers are expected to continue to decline in the coming years.
"This means governments, workers and employers organisations, and civil society are on the right track and moving in the right direction," the report says. "The investment, experience and attention paid to the elimination of child labour, with priority given to its worst forms, are clearly paying off."
Still, with 78 million child laborers coming from the Asia-Pacific region and one in five child laborers living in Africa, there's clearly more work to be done on the issue.
The sectors where child labor is the biggest problem are the agriculture (98 million), service (54 million), and industrial (12 million) sectors, mostly taking place in the informal economy, the report points out.
And it's not just a problem in poorer countries. While in poorer countries 23 percent of children are child laborers (compared with nine percent in lower-middle income countries and six percent in upper-middle income countries), it's middle-income countries that account for the highest total number of child laborers.
Read more: UN report