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Global jobless to hit record 200 million this year: ILO

People wait to enter a government-run employment office in Madrid January 3, 2013. REUTERS/Susana Vera
People wait to enter a government-run employment office in Madrid January 3, 2013. REUTERS/Susana Vera

By Tom Miles

GENEVA (Reuters) - The global jobless queue will stretch to more than 200 million people this year, the International Labour Organization said in its annual report on Tuesday, repeating a warning it has made at the start of each of the last six years.

The U.N. jobs watchdog estimates unemployment will rise by 5.1 million this year to more than 202 million, and by another 3 million in 2014, following a rise of 4.2 million in 2012.

If those predictions are right, global unemployment will hit a record. But the ILO has revised its jobless figures down each year as the number of those giving up the job hunt altogether swells, meaning they are no longer classed as unemployed.

A Reuters analysis of previous ILO reports shows that estimates of unemployment made in each of the last six years have subsequently been cut. The original 2007 joblessness figure of 189.9 million is now put at 169.0 million - 11 percent lower.

Figures for 2008-2010 have also fallen by 10-15 million from the original estimates.

Most of the drop is due to people giving up looking for work, said Jose Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, head of director of labour market analysis at the Geneva-based ILO.

"These are people who, because of the seriousness of the crisis, because of long-term unemployment, have given up hope, have decided to not search for work any more, and therefore they are not counted as unemployed but more as discouraged," he said.

The ILO's revised figures mean global unemployment has risen by 28 million since 2007, before the start of the financial crisis, said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

With a further 39 million "discouraged" people withdrawing from the labour market over the same period, the crisis could be seen to have created a global jobs gap of 67 million, he said.

However, despite the greater number people believed to have given up on looking for work, the ILO's latest report did not revise figures given a year ago for the total number of people in the labour market.

The so-called "labour force participation rate", which measures the proportion of the working-age population who are working or looking for work, is thought to have remained steady at 64.1 percent for the past three years, showing no sign of the labour force shrinking.

The figure had been above 65 percent until 2007 but fell in each of the subsequent three years.

(Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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