20m more jobless by 2009?

GENEVA - THE financial crisis could lead to a 20 million increase in the number of unemployed world-wide by the end of 2009, International Labour Organisation chief Juan Somavia warned on Monday.

Estimates from the ILO indicate that the 'number of unemployed could rise from 190 million in 2007 to 210 million in late 2009,' said Mr Somavia.

The population of working poor living on less than a dollar a day could rise by 40 million, and those on two dollars a day by over 100 million, added the ILO.

But Mr Somavia said these projections 'could prove to be underestimates if the effects of the current economic contraction and looming recession are not quickly confronted.'

Thousands of jobs have already been slashed on Wall Street and other financial centres as banks collapse or are forced to merge due to the credit crunch.

But the ILO said that the axe was likely to reach ordinary working people, with sectors including construction, the automotive industry, tourism, services and real estate to bear the brunt of the financial storm.

'This is not simply a crisis on Wall Street, this is a crisis on all streets. We need an economic rescue plan for working families and the real economy, with rules and policies that deliver decent jobs,' he said.

Unemployment rates have been rising throughout the world.

Hong Kong earlier on Monday said its jobless rate rose to 3.4 per cent for the three months to Sept, compared to 3.2 per cent in the three months to Aug.

Meanwhile, the US reported earlier this month that it had lost 159,000 jobs in Sept.

Mr Somavia called for 'prompt and coordinated government actions to avert a social crisis', and said he welcomed calls for 'better financial regulation and a global surveillance system of checks and balances.' -- AFP


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