World youth joblessness soars, firing unrest: ILO

11 Aug 2010

GENEVA: World youth unemployment is set to hit a postwar record in 2010, increasing the potential for social unrest, crime and violence, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said on Thursday.

According to the United Nations agency, just over 13 per cent of a global workforce aged 15 to 24 will be jobless by the end of the year, slightly above levels at the end of 2009 and a huge rise since 2007. That means 81.2 million young people of working age will be without a job, an ILO report said. Between late 2007, when the economic and financial crisis began, and the end of 2009, the number of young people out of work rose by 7.8 million against an average annual increase of 191,000 over the preceding decade.

“An inability to to find employment creates a sense of uselessness and idleness among young people that can lead to increased crime, mental health problems, violence, conflicts and drug-taking,” the report said.

It forecast youth unemployment would continue to increase in 2011, despite an expected global economic recovery, but at a slower place in all regions except the Middle East and North Africa, where it would continue to accelerate.

Worst hit were developing countries, where the overwhelming majority of young people live, and where the effects of losing or failing to find a job were likely to be much more dramatic. Young people in developed economies including the United States, the 27 countries of the European Union and former communist European states outside the EU are also seeing jobs disappear, the ILO said.

Between 2008 and 2009, unemployment rates among 15- to 24-year-olds in the main developed economies rose by 4.6 per centage points to reach 17.7 per cent of the total potential youth workforce at the end of last year, the highest on record.

The ILO forecast a slower recovery for youth employment than for adults. In a comment on the report, “ILO Global Employment Trends for Youth 2010”, the agency’s director-general, Juan Somavia, suggested that governments in rich and poor countries should focus on education and trainingt to tackle the trend.

“Young people are the drivers of economic development. Foregoing this potential is an economic waste,” he said.

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