ILO’s Worst-Case Scenario: 50 Million New Unemployed

The International Labour Office's Global Employment Trends report says global unemployment could increase by as many as 50 million people this year, and 1.4 billion people worldwide who are working would be classified as "working poor" – meaning they earn less than $2 (U.S.) per day. ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said the situation continues to deteriorate.

"The ILO message is realistic, not alarmist. We are now facing a global jobs crisis," he said. "Many governments are aware and acting, but more decisive and coordinated international action is needed to avert a global social recession. Progress in poverty reduction is unraveling, and middle classes worldwide are weakening. The political and security implications are daunting."

The 2007 global unemployment rate was 5.7 percent, and the International Monetary Fund predicted in November 2008 it would rise to 6.1 percent this year. But ILO said the rate could rise to 6.5 percent or, in the worst case, 7.1 percent, which would mean an increase of 50 million unemployed people worldwide. North Africa and the Middle East are the regions with the highest unemployment rates (10.3 and 9.4 percent, respectively), which East Asia has the lowest current rate of 3.8 percent, according to the report.

The report says many governments are using policy measures ILO has recommended, including expanded unemployment coverage; retraining; and public investments in infrastructure and housing, emergency public works, and green jobs.

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