UN labour agency gives gloomy outlook for jobs, citing government austerity cuts

GENEVA – Global unemployment will hit 202 million this year, or 6.1 per cent, as debt-driven austerity measures hammer job markets and threaten to drive Europe into recession, the U.N. labour agency predicted Monday.

In a gloomy forecast, the International Labor Organization predicted unemployment, which stood at 196 million at the end of 2011, would edge up further in 2013, with the long-term unemployed and young people hit particularly hard.

The “narrow focus of many eurozone countries on fiscal austerity is deepening the jobs crisis and could even lead to another recession in Europe,” said Raymond Torres, the report’s lead author.

“Austerity has not produced more economic growth,” he told reporters.

With 50 million jobs vanished since the 2008-09 global financial crisis, the Geneva-based ILO’s report said said, “the global employment situation is alarming and shows no signs of recovery in the near future” despite signs of economic growth in some regions.

“It is unlikely that the world economy will grow at a sufficient pace over the next couple of years to both close the existing jobs deficit and provide employment for the over 80 million people expected to enter the labour market during this period,” the report said.

The unemployment rate has risen across nearly two-thirds of European nations since 2010, the ILO said, but the labour market has also “stalled” in the U.S., Japan and other advanced economies.

In China, the gains are coming slower for a better educated working-age population, and through much of the Middle East and Africa the “jobs deficits remain acute,” the ILO report said.