Page last updated at 12:41 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Asia to 'lose 7.2 million jobs'

Candidates seeking employment look on during a job fair in India
The report says that 51 million new jobs will be needed in 2009 and 2010

About 7.2 million people in Asian countries are likely to lose their jobs in 2009 amid the global downturn, a UN report has suggested.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) said that in the worst case scenario the number of newly-unemployed might total 22.3 million.

The UN agency warned that a significant rise in the number of unemployed workers could lead to social unrest.

It urged governments to prioritise the creation of jobs.

However, the report added: "There is very little chance that a sufficient number of new jobs will be created in the region this year to keep up with expected labor force growth."

The ILO scenario forecast a likely rise in the number of jobless people in Asia to 97 million, with the figure jumping to 113 million in the most pessimistic scenario.

Some Asian countries have experienced an economic boom in recent years, but a third of Asia's population still live on about $1 a day.

Government policies

Expanding already agreed public spending projects is a quick, effective way to create and safeguard jobs
Sachiko Yamamato, ILO regional director

The report estimates that about 51 million new jobs will be needed in 2009 and 2010 to absorb the growing labour force.

The organisation also forecast a drop in remittances in 2009.

"For labor-sending countries, this will exacerbate the challenge of mitigating job losses and generating new employment domestically," it said.

The ILO warned Asian countries against protectionist policies, such as refusing to issue work permits to foreign workers.

"Having a more coordinated effort to pull fiscal policies together, to talk about the sequencing and the timing of those fiscal policies would be a big help," said Stephen Pursey, Director for Policy Integration at the ILO.

Sachiko Yamamato, regional director of ILO, said: "Support must come quickly. Expanding already agreed public spending projects is a quick, effective way to create and safeguard jobs."



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