OECD warns on job losses

OECD warns on job losses

Leading economic body the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned that unemployment poses a serious risk to recovery in western countries.

Unemployment in the UK is likely to remain at 8% until at least the end of 2011, said the OECD in its annual employment outlook published today (7 July).

The body said it was concerned that the UK's Coalition Government has decided to scrap two crisis measures designed to get people back into work - the Future Jobs Fund and the Six Month Offer.

Historically high unemployment levels, coupled with Government efforts to cut fiscal deficits in many western countries, could depress consumer confidence over the longer term and exacerbate the problems faced by drinks companies.

The president of Diageo's Europe division warned last month that he does not expect the company's drinks sales to rise for at least the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, Government austerity measures in the form of tax rises are set to hamper alcoholic drinks sales in several European countries, from the UK to Spain to Greece.

"Creating jobs has to be a top priority for governments,” said OECD secretary-general Angel Gurría at a press conference in Paris today.

“Cutting unemployment and fiscal deficits at the same time is a daunting challenge but it needs to be tackled head on. Despite signs of recovery in most countries, the risk remains that millions of people may lose touch with the labour market," he added.      

Since the onset of the financial crisis, unemployment has risen most steeply in Spain, Ireland and the US, according to OECD figures.

Nearly one in five adults of working age in Spain are unemployed, compared to a rate of around 8.5% in December 2007. Ireland's unemployment rate has risen from around 5% to 13% over the same period, while the US rate has doubled to nearly 10%.

France's unemployment rate is also around 10%, although it was already 8% in December 2007. Of the OECD member countries, only Germany has seen its unemployment rate fall in the last two-and-a-half years, from nearly 8% to around 7%.

For the full OECD report, click here.