02/19/2009, 00.00
ASIA

ILO forecasts loss of between 7 and 22 million Asian jobs in 2009

The group warns about the risk of social protests, and advises governments to save the jobs and provide for the needs of the most vulnerable. But many say that the estimate is too optimistic: in China's Guangdong province alone, 20 million jobs were lost in the second quarter of 2008.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) - In 2009, Asia will have at least 7.2 million fewer jobs following the global crisis, according to a study published yesterday by the International Labour Group. In the worst-case scenario, the ILO says that 22.3 million jobs will be lost in 2009, and 50 million for the entire period of 2007-2009. It forecasts that in 2009, there will be between 97 and 113 million people unemployed in Asia.

Sachiko Yamamato, the regional director of the ILO, warns that this scenario means that the "prospect [of unrest] is a real one, and therefore social partners have to be included in policy discussions in order to make sure that the most vulnerable and most affected people are given the centre of attention in fiscal measures." Governments' so-called stimulus measures for the economy must also be aimed first of all at creating jobs.

Following the crisis, a number of countries, like Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand, have stop giving permits to foreign workers, which is causing more problems for other countries. It is estimated that a third of the Asian population is already "poor" (living on less than a dollar a day).

Experts nonetheless note the difficulty of obtaining precise current figures, in part because of the large numbers of people, especially migrants, who work in the underground economy. They observe that in Guangdong alone, the region with the largest concentration of economic production in China, official figures show that about 20 million jobs were lost in the second quarter of 2008, while the prospects for the immediate future are no better.

(In the photo: a protest in Taiwan by workers dismissed without pay)

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