Young People Bear Burden As Global Jobless Total Stays High

By Agence France-Presse Young people around the world struggled to find jobs as global unemployment leveled off at a record high in 2003, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said Jan. 22. About 185.9 million people were unemployed in 2003, half a million more than the previous year and the highest number ever recorded, according to the latest data compiled by the ILO. But the rate of growth in global unemployment slowed sharply compared with the previous two years, according to the ILO's model. "It's too early to say the worst is over," said ILO director-general Juan Somavia. "However, if current estimates of global growth and domestic demand hold steady or improve, the global picture may be somewhat better in 2004." The ILO's unemployment rate of 6.3% worldwide has broadly remained stable, despite the expansion of the global workforce as the world's population grows. But labor experts highlighted some worrying imbalances, notably the growing plight of young people on the world labor market. Some 88.2 million young people were out of work in 2003, 1.7 million more than the previous year, and the rate of growth in youth joblessness outstripped the overall figure, according to ILO. The global unemployment rate among under-24-year-olds last year reached 14.4%. "It has started to be more pronounced in recent years," said Goren Hultin an executive director at the ILO. Young people fall into a trap by being unable to get jobs that could provide them with essential skills, he explained. "It boils down to the issue of skills. In many cases in the developing world, job experience is the only source of skills," Hultin added. Average unemployment ranged from 3.3% in East Asia, despite pressure from a high number of new entrants to the labor market, up to 12.2% in the Middle East and North Africa, where the public sector has shed jobs, according to the ILO. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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