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ILO: Global Unemployment at Historic High


The International Labor Organization reports the number of people unemployed worldwide remained at an historical high in 2006 despite strong global economic growth. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA on the launch of the ILO's "Global Employment Trends 2007" report from Geneva.

The International Labor Organization reports more people are working globally than every before. Nevertheless, the number of those without jobs remained at an all time high of more than 195 million or 6.3 percent. This rate was almost unchanged from the previous year.

The executive director of the ILO's employment sector, Jose Salazar, says the outlook for this year is for continued high growth in the world economy. But, he says this is not expected to have much impact on unemployment.

"Using this as a baseline, there is no reason to think that continued robust growth will translate into significant reductions in unemployment or poverty unless something is done significantly different in terms of innovative employment policies," said Jose Salazar. "So, the report argues that in order to reduce unemployment rates and improve poverty reduction effects, policies should be put in place to strengthen the link between growth and jobs."

The report says the Middle East and North Africa remained the region with the highest unemployment rate in the world at 12.2 percent, followed by sub-Saharan Africa at nearly 10 percent. East Asia's unemployment rate of 3.6 percent remained the lowest in the world.

The author of the report, Dorothea Schmidt, says population growth, especially in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa is putting a lot of pressure on job creation. But, she says demographics is not the only driving force. She says the aging population also is having an impact.

"We, of course have this trend in the industrialized economies," said Dorothea Schmidt. "That is one of the reasons why we see more and more migration flows going into these countries. We also already see it in East Asia where we have relatively no labor force or population growth rate and we already see that especially China is getting to a point where they have to deal with a shortage of labor."

To solve this problem, Schmidt says China must train its growing youth population in the skills needed to develop the country.

Other findings in the report show that young people are hardest hit by unemployment, that the employment gap between women and men persists and that the service sector has, for the first time, overtaken agriculture as the biggest area of employment.

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