Downturn may cost 25 million jobs in OECD countries

PARIS Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:07am EDT

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PARIS (Reuters) - The economic downturn will likely cost as many as 25 million people their jobs by end-2010 as the unemployment rate nears a record 10 percent in the OECD group of countries, according to a report released on Wednesday.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said 15 million jobs were lost between end-2007 and July 2009 and 10 million more could go by the end of next year despite signs the economy is picking up.

"A major risk is that much of this large hike in unemployment becomes structural in nature," the report said.

"The world economy is indeed recovering. We've thrown trillions and trillions and trillions at it and of course we're seeing results," OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria said.

"(But) employment is the bottom line of the current crisis. We cannot claim victory because we see economic indicators going up. We should not assume that (renewed GDP) growth will take care of this," he told a news conference.

The OECD-wide unemployment rate has already hit the highest on records going back to World War Two, surging to 8.3 percent by June 2009 from 5.6 percent at the end of 2007, the annual report from the Paris-based OECD said.

The latest aggregate readout, for July, is 8.5 percent.

Spain, Ireland and the United States were worst hit, with unemployment rates rising by 9.7 percentage points, 7.8 percentage points and 4.5 percentage points respectively between the start of 2007 and mid-2009, it said.

"The labor market outlook would be even worse if governments has not pursued expansionary monetary and fiscal policy," said the OECD, estimating that government spending on anti-recession projects will raise total employment next year by about 0.8-1.4 percent more than would otherwise have happened.

This downturn is destroying considerably more jobs than other recessions since the early 1970s, the report says.

Most of the world's high-income countries and a few others are members of the OECD but others such as China and India are not.

(Editing by Chris Pizzey)

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