Economic Turbulence May Idle 5 Million This Year, ILO Warns

The International Labour Office's latest annual Global Employment Trends report is an alarm bell for the world's leaders. "Economic turbulence" caused mainly by credit market turmoil and rising oil prices could increase global unemployment by an estimated 5 million people in 2008, it warns. In 2007, by contrast, global GDP growth of more than 5 percent stabilized labor markets, resulting in a net increase of 45 million new jobs and only a slight increase in the number of people unemployed, to a total of 189.9 million people worldwide, it says.

"This year's global jobs picture is one of contrasts and uncertainty," ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said. "While global growth is annually producing millions of new jobs, unemployment remains unacceptably high and may go to levels not seen before this year. What's more, though more people are in work than ever before, this doesn't mean that these jobs are decent jobs. Too many people, if not unemployed, remain among the ranks of the working poor, the vulnerable, or the discouraged."

The report says job growth in Asia and other undeveloped regions has made up for slower growth in developed economies so far, but the expected slowdown in growth during 2008 could increase the worldwide unemployment rate to 6.1 percent, with at least 5 million people newly unemployed. Overall, 61.7 percent of the global population of working age -– an estimated 3 billion people -– were employed in 2007. ILO also said half of the world's workers are in "vulnerable" employment, either contributing family workers or self-employed, and thus vulnerable to poverty, low earnings, dangerous working conditions, and lack of health insurance. The service sector now provides 42.7 percent of the world's jobs, compared to agriculture's 34.9 per cent. The industrial sector accounts for 22.4 percent.

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