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ILO Paints Bleak Picture of Global Jobs Crisis

The International Labor Organization is predicting between 210 million and 239 million people around the world will be unemployed in 2009. That corresponds to global unemployment rates of 6.5 and 7.4 percent respectively. The organization has launched a report on "Tackling The Global Jobs Crisis" in advance of the ILO annual conference, which begins June 3.

The report presents a bleak picture of increasing job loss in every region of the world. It projects an increase of between 39 and 59 million unemployed since 2007. And, says 200 million more workers are at risk of joining the ranks of people living on less than $2 a day.

The director general of the International Labor Organization, Juan Somavia, says the economies of some countries that have introduced fiscal stimulus packages are beginning to show faint signs of recovery. But, he says it is hard to know when unemployment will bottom out.

"Based on the experience of previous crises, we know that unemployment returns to pre-crisis levels at a slow and uneven pace and on average, it can take four to five years after economic recovery starts or pre-crisis unemployment levels to be recuperated," said Somavia.

The Report says 2009 will represent the worst global performance on record in terms of job creation. It notes 45 million new job seekers enter the global labor market each year. This means that in the period between 2009 and 2015, around 300 million new jobs will have to be created simply to absorb the growth in the labor force.

Somavia says everything points to a global jobs crisis. And, that, he says is why the ILO is proposing a global jobs pact, which is intended to reduce the lag time between economic recovery and unemployment recovery.

He says this is not a jobs program, but a policy approach, that aims to make sure stimulus measures and other government policies better address the needs of people who need protection and work. He says it also is based on a productive vision of crisis management through investment and enterprise promotion.

"The financial system lost its way and we cannot go back to recent business as usual," said Somavia. "So, we need a financial system that is well regulated, manages risk appropriately and must now be at the service of the real economy so it can create sustainable enterprises and decent work."

Among its key findings, the report notes the developed economies and European Union are likely to account for 35 to 40 percent of the total global increase in unemployment, despite accounting for less than 16 percent of the global labor force.

The ILO projects an increase in unemployment of up to 25 percent in the Middle East and up to 13 percent in North Africa this year. And, it says, in sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 73 percent of the region's workers are in vulnerable employment. It adds this could rise to more than 77 percent this year.