- The Washington Times - Friday, January 24, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (UPI) — The global economic slowdown that began about two years ago has wiped out some 20 million jobs, a new report says. That's brought total world unemployment to perhaps 180 million people.

The figures, from the International Labor Office, were released Friday.

The Washington Post, reporting on the U.N. agency's statistics, says that the increase in joblessness was about 12.5 percent — at a time world population growth is about 1.2 percent a year.

The ILO also found that the number of working poor, earning less than $1 a day, had risen to 550 million, the highest since 1998, the Post says.

It quotes Juan Somavia, the ILO's chief, as saying that the world job situation is "deteriorating dramatically," which could have "grave consequences for the social and political stability" in many regions.

The report, released every two years, might underestimate true unemployment. Many countries are believed to undercount the unemployed, often because they aren't eligible for government assistance.

The slowdown began in the industrialized world, most notably the United States, when the technology bubble burst. It "worsened after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Diminished demand for goods in the wealthier nations has led to job cutbacks in the export-oriented industries of developing nations," says the Post.

More than 10 million tourism-related jobs have also vanished.

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