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World heading for massive jobs slump

We need to employ our way out of economic misery

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The early signs of another jobs slump are already apparent, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The body now estimates that employment in advanced economies won't return to levels seen before the global financial crisis until 2016.

“We have reached the moment of truth. We have a brief window of opportunity to avoid a major double-dip in employment,” said Raymond Torres, director of the ILO International Institute for Labour Studies in a canned statement.

The institute's World of Work Report 2011 concluded:

The latest indicators suggest that the employment slowdown has already started to materialise. This is the case in nearly two-thirds of advanced economies and half of the emerging and developing economies for which recent data are available. Meanwhile, young people continue to enter the labour market.

As a result, approximately 80 million net new jobs will be needed over the next two years to restore pre-crisis employment rates (27 million in advanced economies and the remainder in emerging and developing countries). However, in light of the recent economic slowdown, the world economy is likely to create only about half of those much-needed jobs.

It also warned that widespread unemployment, and the perception that the burden of the crisis was being borne unevenly, were contributing to social unrest in a number of countries:

In 40 per cent of the 119 countries for which estimates could be performed, the risk of social unrest has increased significantly since 2010. Similarly, 58 per cent of countries show an increase in the percentage of people who report a worsening of standards of living. And confidence in the ability of national governments to address the situation has weakened in half the countries.

As employment gets worse and more people get worried about their job and wage security, household spending is falling so less money is pouring into the economy, stalling recovery further.

If countries want to break this vicious circle, they're going to have to focus on jobs as one of the key drivers of recovery instead of "appeasing financial markets", the ILO said.

The report added:

Strikingly, while most countries now have fiscal consolidation plans, only one major advanced economy - the United States - has announced a national jobs plan. Elsewhere, employment policy is often examined with a fiscal lens.

The ILO added that, despite this focus on the financial sector, regulation "remains inadequate".

You can read the full report here. ®

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