As world leaders and wealthy business executives prepared to mingle and chat at the World Economic Forum, U.N. figures revealed on Tuesday that 205 million people were unemployed last year in the wake of the financial crisis and that little improvement was expected in 2011.

The International Labour Organization said the number of jobless worldwide held steady last year and is forecast to dip less than one percent this year to 203.3 million.

The ILO report was released on the eve of the five-day meeting as last-minute preparations were made for the arrival of some 2,500 business and political leaders who will discuss the state of the world.

ILO chief Juan Somavia was quoted in the report as saying that “the tremendous human costs of the recession are still with us.”

The Geneva-based agency said that there are 27.6 million more jobless today than when the financial crisis started in 2007, though with population growth more people are also in work now.

The results are likely to figure in the discussions and debate through Sunday as a post-mortem is taken on the financial crisis and what lies ahead.

“The post-crisis era should not be the pre-crisis era,” Forum founder and chairman Klaus Schwab told The Associated Press. “We should have learned and we should avoid the exuberance. One of the key issues will be exactly the question ‘Are we out of the crisis or is it much more an artificial consequence of all the measures which have been undertaken.”

The forum begins on Wednesday and ends on Sunday.

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