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Prospects for job opportunities have worsened in many countries despite evidence that the global economy is growing again in the wake of the recession, and labour markets are likely to remain depressed until 2015, the United Nations labour agency said in a report unveiled today.

“Despite these significant gains... new clouds have emerged on the employment horizon and the prospects have worsened significantly in many countries,” the UN International Labour Organizations (ILO) said in a study by its research arm, the International Institute for Labour Studies.

World of Work Report 2010 – from one crisis to the next? acknowledges that three years into the economic crisis, the global economy has resumed growing, with some countries, especially emerging economies in Asia and Latin America, showing encouraging signs of employment recovery. But even in those countries, more than 8 million new jobs are still needed to return to pre-crisis levels.

According to the study, if current policies persist, a recovery in employment to pre-crisis levels will be delayed until 2015 in advanced economies, instead of 2013 as was projected a year ago.

“The longer the labour market recession, the greater the difficulties for job seekers to obtain new employment,” the ILO report says.

“In the 35 countries for which data exists, nearly 40 per cent of job seekers have been without work for more than one year and therefore run significant risks of demoralization, loss of self-esteem and mental health problems. Importantly, young people are disproportionately hit by unemployment.”

Juan Somavia, the ILO Director-General, said “fairness must be the compass guiding us out of the crisis.”

“People can understand and accept difficult choices, if they perceive that all share in the burden of pain. Governments should not have to choose between the demands of financial markets and the needs of their citizens. Financial and social stability must come together. Otherwise, not only the global economy but also social cohesion will be at risk,” Mr. Somavia added.

Some of the findings from the ILO study, which is based on data from some 150 countries include the fact that cases of social unrest related to the financial and economic crisis have been reported in at least 25 countries – many of them in advanced economies.

It also notes that any countries that experienced positive employment growth at the end of 2009 are now seeing a weakening of the jobs recovery. At the same time, the report says that by the end of 2009, more than 4 million job seekers had stopped looking for work in the countries for which information is available.

In more than three quarters of 82 countries with available information, peoples' perceptions of their quality of life and standard of living declined in 2009 compared to similar data from 2006, according to the report.

Even among people with jobs, satisfaction at work has deteriorated significantly with a sense of unfairness growing in 46 of 83 countries, the report says, pointing out that in 36 of 72 countries, people have less confidence in governments now than prior to the crisis.

Raymond Torres, Director of the International Institute and lead author of the report, said two main reasons explain the bleaker outlook facing many countries in the global economy.

“The first is that fiscal stimulus measures that were critical in averting a deeper crisis and helped jump-start the economy are now being withdrawn in countries where recovery, if any, is still too weak,” he said. “The second and more fundamental factor is that the root causes of the crisis have not been properly tackled.”

According to the report, “the coexistence of private-debt-led growth in certain developed countries with export-led growth in large emerging economies has proved to be the Achilles' heel of the world economy.”