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Record world unemployment in 2009: not much better this year, says ILO

Wednesday, January 27th 2010 - 14:37 UTC
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The number of jobless worldwide reached nearly 212 million in 2009 The number of jobless worldwide reached nearly 212 million in 2009

The number of jobless worldwide reached nearly 212 million in 2009 following an unprecedented increase of 34 million compared to 2007, on the eve of the global crisis, the International Labour Office (ILO) said in its annual Global Employment Trends report released Tuesday in Geneva.

Based on IMF economic forecasts, the ILO estimates that global unemployment is likely to remain high through 2010. In the Developed Economies and European Union unemployment is projected to increase by an additional 3 million people in 2010, while it will stabilize at present levels, or decline only slightly, in other regions such as Latinamerica.

The ILO also said the number of unemployed youth worldwide increased by 10.2 million in 2009 compared to 2007, the largest hike since 1991.

At the same time, the ILO report shows wide variations in the employment impact of the crisis between regions and countries as well as in labour market recovery prospects.

The report says that coordinated stimulus measures have averted a far greater social and economic catastrophe; yet millions of women and men around the world are still without a job, unemployment benefits or any viable form of social protection.

“As the World Economic Forum gathers at Davos, it is clear that avoiding a jobless recovery is the political priority of today” said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. “We need the same policy decisiveness that saved banks now applied to save and create jobs and livelihoods of people. This can be done through strong convergence of public policies and private investment”.

Mr. Somavia added: “Each year, the global labour market has expanded by 45 million people therefore recovery measures must target job creation for young men and women entering the labour market for the first time.”

According to the ILO, the share of workers in vulnerable employment worldwide is estimated to reach over 1.5 billion, equivalent to over half (50.6%) of the world’s labour force. The number of women and men in vulnerable employment is estimated to have increased in 2009, by as much as 110 million compared to 2008.

The report also says that 633 million workers and their families were living on less than 1.25 US dollar per day in 2008, with as many as 215 million additional workers living on the margin and at risk of falling into poverty in 2009.

Other key findings of the report indicate that the global unemployment rate rose to 6.6% in 2009, an increase of 0.9 percentage points over 2007. However it varied widely by region, ranging from 4.4% in East Asia to more than 10% in Central and South-Eastern Europe (non-EU) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CSEE & CIS) as well as in North Africa.

The global youth unemployment rate rose by 1.6 percentage points to reach 13.4% in 2009 relative to 2007. This represents the largest increase since at least 1991, the earliest year for which global estimates are available.

The unemployment rate in the Developed Economies and European Union jumped to 8.4% in 2009, up from 6.0% in 2008 and 5.7% in 2007. The number of unemployed in the region is estimated to have surged by more than 13.7 million between 2007 and 2009, with an increase of nearly 12 million unemployed in 2009 alone. Employment in the industrial sectors has suffered more than employment in agriculture or services.

In Latin America and the Caribbean the unemployment rate is estimated to have risen from 7% in 2008 to 8.2% in 2009, amounting to 4 million additional jobless in 2009. Current estimates also indicate that the share of workers in extreme poverty ranged from 7.0 to 9.9% in 2009, an increase of up to 3.3 percentage points from 2008. In 2010, unemployment is expected to decrease slightly up to around 8%, reflecting the better outlook towards the end of 2009.

Categories: Economy, International.

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