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OECD forecasts higher unemployment figures in 2008, 2009

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is predicting an average rise in unemployment in 2008 and 2009, while calling for efforts to combat racism and discrimination against women.

Published in Paris Wednesday, the annual report on employment perspectives, which covers the 30 OECD member states, reveals that “growth in employment figures is expected to slow down significantly in both 2008 and 2009.”

Unlike between 1995 and 2005, when the curve of job creation recorded an average growth of 1.1% in the OECD member states, the rise will slacken to 0.7% in 2008, before falling further to 0.5% in 2009.

“The downward trend in unemployment in recent years should be reversed in 2008, with the number of jobless people in the OECD zone increasing by up to 1 million in 2008, and nearly 2 million in 2009,” according to the report.

The report predicts a rate of unemployment of 5.7% among the active population this year and 6% next year. The OECD area includes 23 European countries and Australia, Turkey, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, the United States, Japan and South Korea.

In 2007, the rate of unemployment had declined in all OECD member countries with the exception of Portugal, Ireland and Mexico, a trend that, according to the report, could worsen over the next two years.

In the annual report, the Paris-based OECD describes as a success the “structural reforms” that have been implemented in recent years by member states to correct “inherent weaknesses” while at the same time acknowledging that this is “not enough.”

In 2007, the average rate of unemployment in the OECD area fell to 5.6%, the lowest rate recorded since 1980, said an OECD analyst during the presentation of the current report.

“Indeed, the labor market situation remains difficult for certain categories of persons and the unfavorable global economic environment could have negative repercussions on the labor market as a whole,” according to the report

“In addition, a significant proportion of the employment growth that has been witnessed in many OECD countries during the last two decades is attributable to increase in the share of precarious or poorly remunerated jobs,” said the OECD report.

“We need to take appropriate measures to deal with obstacles, such as discriminatory behavior, that limit access to employment opportunities,” said the organization. The report, in addition, puts emphasis on “the difficulties encountered by some young people who found it difficult to secure employment after graduating.”

The OECD report also covers topics such as discrimination against women and employees who are subjected to racism. “A woman has a 20% less chance to access employment compared to a man, and will, on average, receive a lower pay that the male counterpart,” says the report.

“Workers belonging to ethnic minorities have periods of job search 40% and 50% above those of people with similar characteristics but belonging to majority groups, making them much more vulnerable to the risk of long-term unemployment,” according to the report. (Xinhua)