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Friday, 24 January, 2003, 13:04 GMT
World jobless hits record high
Polish shipyard workers
Economic slowdown has cost many workers their jobs

Unemployment around the world has reached a record figure of 180 million and is likely to continue rising, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The Global Employment Trends report released by the ILO in Geneva says the number of jobless worldwide now stands at 6.5% of the labour force.

In addition, the numbers of working poor have risen dramatically.

The ILO report describes the world employment situation as alarming and warns that it is continuing to deteriorate.

Global problem

Two years of economic slowdown have caused the number of jobless worldwide to rise by 20 million to the record level of 180 million.

Demonstrators in Buenos Aires
Argentina's economic crisis has provoked demonstrations

Hardest hit are the industrialised countries of Latin America, where economic crisis has driven the average unemployment rate up to 10%.

In Argentina, whose economy is the worst affected, the number of jobless now stands at 22%.

In Africa and the Middle East, those looking for their first jobs are finding it especially hard.

In some regions 25% of young people are unemployed; even university graduates are having difficulty finding a job.

Europe too is affected. Although unemployment dropped slightly in 2001, it rose again last year to an average of 7.6% of the workforce.

Ambitious goals

But the ILO says unemployment figures alone are not the full picture.

The number of working poor - those earning less than $1 a day - has risen drastically too, so that around the world 730 million people are either unemployed, under-employed or working poor.

The ILO believes one billion new jobs must be created over the next ten years if the United Nations goal of halving the number of people living in poverty is to be achieved.

But the ILO warns in the short term a possible war against Iraq and rising oil prices can only contribute to more unemployment.

See also:

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