30 million more jobless in the world, says ILO

ILO says debt-ridden countries such as Greece and Spain have been hit hard by budget-cutting

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 October, 2012, 6:05am


There are now 30 million more people without jobs around the world than before the global financial crisis began, the head of the International Labour Organisation said in remarks published yesterday.

The figures come amid a growing debate over the merits of austerity, especially in Europe, where painful budget-cutting has pushed jobless levels as high as 25 per cent in some countries, including debt-hit Greece and Spain.

"Global unemployment is still more than 30 million higher than before the crisis," said director-general Guy Ryder.

"And nearly 40 million more women and men have stopped looking for work."

Ryder said about a third of the more than 200 million unemployed around the world were under 25.

"With the world's workforce growing by about 40 million a year, we face large and growing decent-work deficits stretching out years ahead.

"Of those employed, 900 million women and men are unable to earn enough to lift themselves and their families above the US$2 a day poverty line."

Ryder said that figure would be 55 per cent lower if the poverty reduction trend seen before the crisis had been maintained.

"This means that the damage of austerity measures has been more profound than previously thought.

"There is now an urgent need to revisit the timelines for fiscal balances, taking a much longer view of the time it will take to repair the damage done by the financial excesses of the pre-crisis period."

On Thursday, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said too much austerity too quickly could cause difficulties, particularly if a number of economies were chasing targets at the same time.

Lagarde also said at a news conference the IMF was happy for debt-addled Greece to have an extra two years to get its fiscal house in order, as new figures showed that one in four Greeks was unemployed.

"Instead of frontloading heavily it is sometimes better - given the circumstances and the fact that many countries at the same time go through that same set of policies with the view of reducing their deficits - it is sometimes better to have a bit more time," she said.

"This is what we've advocated for Portugal, this is what we've advocated for Spain and this is what we are advocating for Greece.

"I have said repeatedly that an additional two years was necessary for the country to actually face the fiscal consolidation programme."