UN: Unemployment to rise worldwide in 2008

Updated: 2008-01-24 11:45

GENEVA -- The world unemployment rate will rise in 2008 as the global economy slows down with signs that it is heading toward recession, UN labor agency the International Labor Organization (ILO) said in a report Thursday.

According to the report issued by the Geneva-based body, the world unemployment rate would climb to 6.1 percent this year from 6.0 percent in 2007.

However, the projection could be proven much too low if the world economy grows at an even slower rate than the 4.8 percent estimated by the International Monetary Fund, Jose Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, head of the ILO's employment sector, told a news briefing.

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"It is very likely that there will be revisions of rates of growth downward," he said.

Another factor that may drag employment figures is the hike in productivity in recent years, ILO economist Dorothea Schmidt said.

Without rapid economic growth to sustain further productivity gains, unemployment situations will be grimmer, he said.

"It is important for workers to be ready and able to adjust quickly to change and stiffer competition," the report said. " Thiscan be fostered by not only giving them the right skills, but also giving them a feeling of security to handle the mental stress caused by changes."

The ILO also reviewed the unemployment situation in 2007, saying that 3 billion people aged 15 and older had jobs in the year, up nearly 2 percent from 2006 and more than 17 percent higher than in 1997.

There were 190 million unemployed in 2007.

Among those employed, about 487 million people earned less than a dollar a day, and 1.3 billion earned less than 2 dollars a day.

"Despite working, more than 4 out of 10 workers are poor," the report concluded.

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