Crisis may claim 50m jobs by 2009: ILO

Geneva, January 28:

Two years of global financial and economic meltdown could leave over 50 million more people unemployed by the end of 2009, the International Labour Organization warned today.

New estimates indicate that “global unemployment in 2009 could increase over 2007 by a range of 18 million to 30 million workers, and more than 50 million if the situation continues to deteriorate,” the ILO said in a statement.

That could raise the world’s jobless total to 198 million, or 230 million people in the worst case scenario, according to the figures in the ILO’s report, “Global Employment Trends 2009”.

In 2007, some 179 million people were out of work, according to the report.

“The ILO’s message is realistic, not alarmist,” Director-General Juan Somavia told reporters. “We have to assume that we are now facing a global jobs crisis.”

Officials were more inclined to a middle range scenario of 30 million job losses for 2007-2009, raising the worldwide unemployment tally to 210 million. The lowest range was based on existing International Monetary Fund (IMF) data but labour experts here believe it is already outdated.

“I believe the lowest one has already been overtaken,” Somavia said. That could propel the global unemployment rate to an average of 6.5 per cent, or 7.1 per cent in the worst case, for this year, against 5.7 per cent in 2007.

The report indicated that 190 million people were jobless by the end of 2008 after 11 million jobs were shed around the world last year alone, based on a combination of official national data and estimates. If that figure were confirmed, the economic crisis could claim two to four times more jobs this year alone.

Somavia urged the Group of 20 leading industrial and emerging economies to urgently consider measures to boost “productive” investments, create jobs and bolster social protection.