- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The number of unemployed workers in the world’s wealthiest nations will continue to expand long after the global recession ends, with jobless rates jumping to nearly 10 percent, an organization of advanced economies said Tuesday.

In the 30 wealthy nations that compose the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the ranks of the unemployed will soar from 37.2 million at the end of 2008 to more than 57 million by the end of next year, according to an OECD forecast issued Tuesday.

“Unemployment will continue to weigh on national economies for a long time to come,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria. “Previous downturns have taught us that the jobs recovery will lag a long way behind the pickup in economic growth.”

OECD membership ranges from the high-income nations of the United States, Japan, the Euro countries (including Germany, France and Italy), the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and South Korea to the upper-middle-income nations of Turkey, Mexico and Poland.

The OECD average unemployment rate, which has increased from 5.5 percent during the fourth quarter of 2007 to 7.8 percent in April, will continue rising through the end of 2010, the report said. Averaging 9.8 percent in 2010, the OECD jobless rate will peak at 9.9 percent at the end of next year, according to the forecast.

Between December 2007 and April 2009, the ranks of the unemployed in OECD nations increased by 12.4 million. Since the U.S. recession began in December 2007, unemployment here has soared by 7 million as the jobless rate has jumped from 4.9 percent to 9.4 percent. In the eurozone, joblessness has increased by 3.2 million, and the unemployment rate has risen 1.9 percentage points.

Interestingly, since December 2007, the number of unemployed workers in Germany, which has suffered a deep recession, has actually declined by 72,000; and its unemployment rate has fallen by 0.2 percent, the OECD reported.

In an interview with The Washington Times in March, German Ambassador Klaus Scharioth attributed Germany’s relatively stable labor market to its “short-term work” program. Under that policy, the German government pays up to 67 percent of lost wages when employers reduce work hours rather than lay off employees.

Most economic forecasters expect the U.S. economy to begin expanding during the second half of this year, although the unemployment rate is expected to continue rising well into next year. The U.S. unemployment rate used to peak near the trough of a recession, but that has not been the case after the last two economic downturns.

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