Moves by major economies saved millions of jobs, says UN labour agency

20 April 2010 – Policies taken by the so-called Group of 20 major economies (G20) in response to the economic crisis have saved or created some 21 million jobs since last year, according to the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO).

Juan Somavia, the agency’s Director-General, presented the results of a new study to a meeting of G20 labour and employment ministers which kicked off today in Washington.

The gathering, he said, “highlights the importance that leaders of the G20 countries put on having quality jobs at the heart of the recovery. And for the future we need an employment-oriented framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth.”

G20 nations responded to the global crisis on a rapid and decisive scale, according to the ILO report, with monetary policy actions taken in late 2008 to stabilize weak economies quickly followed by fiscal measures to sustain and spur employment and protect workers and households.

But the report, entitled Accelerating a job-rich recovery in G20 countries: Building on experience, also noted that the labour market has remained slack since 2008, despite signs of economic recovery.

Informal employment and poverty is rising in some developing and emerging economies, while real wages have recorded weak growth in countries at all income levels.

The new study also found that the pace of job growth hinges on the level of recovery in output and in employment.

While acknowledging the need for fiscal consolidation, ILO underscored the need to not prematurely activate exit strategies from the extraordinary stimulus measures launched last year, since in many countries, growth remains fragile and private sector demand is still weak.

The agency identified several policy challenges for a sustained recovery in jobs, including consolidating social protection in all nations to support more balanced economic and social development.

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