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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        25 January 2011

Unemployment to remain high

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Unemployment would remain high this year, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said, as global unemployment continues to rise, since the start of the global financial crisis. In a statement, the ILO said that its annual employment trends survey showed that high levels of unemployment and growing discouragement in developed countries, as well as employment growth coupled with continuing high levels of vulnerable employment and working poverty in developed regions, stark a contrast with the recovery seen in several macroeconomic indicators.

These indicators are identified as the global gross domestic product, private consumption, investment and international trade and equity. All these recovered from the global financial crunch in 2010, even surpassing pre-crisis levels.

The ILO noted that despite the "sharp rebound" in economic growth in many countries, official global unemployment still stood at 205 million in 2010. And it is 27.6 million more than the recorded number of unemployed people in 2007-the eve of the global economic crisis.

For 2011, the organization is projecting a global unemployment rate of 6.1 percent, which is equivalent to 203.3-million unemployed.

In Asia and the Pacific, the ILO said, "while rapid economic growth has resumed in many economies, regional unemployment is expected to see little change in 2011 and overall the employment outlook is uncertain, with youth unemployment, vulnerable employment, working poverty and a lack of social protection among concerns facing policy-makers."

The ILO also reported that in East Asia, economic growth has rebounded strongly at an estimated 9.8-percent growth in 2010, as regional unemployment dropped to 4.1 percent last year, still higher, however, than in 2007.

But youth unemployment remains to be the challenge, the ILO said. Regionally, young people are 2.5 times as likely as adults to be unemployed. In Hong Kong, they are four times less likely to get employed.

"As some countries phase out crisis response measures, there is a need to refocus on inequity and on labor market policies that can support structural change and increased consumption," ILO Director General Juan Somavia said in the statement.

In South Asia, rapid economic growth has resumed and the region's unemployment rate has been fairly stable, running between 4.3 and 4.5 percent between 2007 and 2010, the report added.

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