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Unemployment to hit new postwar high, OECD says

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[September 16, 2009]  PARIS (AP) -- Unemployment in leading industrialized nations will hit a new postwar record next year, surpassing the current high, as the global economy looks set for only a timid recovery in 2010, the OECD said in a report Wednesday.

RestaurantThe jobless rate in the 30 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development will approach 10 percent -- meaning 57 million people out of work -- in the second half of 2010, according to the OECD's latest employment outlook report. That compares to the current postwar high of 8.3 percent as of last June.

Calling the short-term jobs outlook "grim," the Paris-based watchdog said there is a risk that the rise in joblessness could result in a permanently higher unemployment level that could take many years to bring back down.

"This unwelcome phenomenon occurred in a number of OECD countries in past recessions when unemployment remained at a new higher plateau compared with the pre-crisis level even after output returned to potential, and it took many years, if ever, to bring it down again to the pre-crisis level," the OECD report said.


Unemployment rates among OECD members range from a low of 3.3 percent in the Netherlands to 18.1 percent in Spain, according to OECD June figures. The U.S. unemployment rate was 9.5 percent in June, above the European Union rate of 8.9 percent.

Nearly 15 million people have joined the ranks of the jobless since the end of 2007, the OECD said.

"There is great uncertainty looking forward, but labor market conditions appear set to deteriorate further in the coming months," the OECD said, noting that its own forecasts are for "a rather muted recovery surfacing only in the first half of 2010."

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Under this scenario, the number of unemployed in the OECD will rise by more than 25 million people in less than three years, comparable to the job losses over the 10-year period until the early 1980s, the report noted.

The organization urged governments to spend more on active labor market policies, such as jobseeker support, training and labor-demand support, that help the unemployed find work. The OECD said that higher spending on these measures is cost effective and justifiable, even in countries whose public finances are strained from funding stimulus plans to fight the global recession.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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