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Updated: April 20, 2010 21:56 IST

Meet in U.S. to discuss job crisis

Narayan Lakshman
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Prospective workers line up outside the Rio Hotel and Casino during a job fair for Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: AFP
Prospective workers line up outside the Rio Hotel and Casino during a job fair for Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: AFP

To compare experiences, policy responses globally

Labour and Employment Ministers of the G-20 nations will meet here to assess how the global economic crisis has affected employment, according to the United States Department of Labour (DoL). As per a press release, Mallikarjun Kharge, Union Minister of Labour and Employment, will head the Indian delegation.

The event, being held on April 20 and 21 and hosted by Labour Department Secretary Hilda Solis, will “compare experiences and policy responses, and offer recommendations for putting quality jobs at the heart of the global economic recovery,” said the DoL.

It said the G20 nations accounted for 85 per cent of the economy and more than two thirds of the world's population. This meeting was therefore an “unprecedented opportunity to tackle one of the worst legacies of the global economic crisis: the loss of millions of jobs”.

The DoL said while a few economic vital signs were improving, global unemployment has surged by 34 million, reaching a record 212 million in 2009. Even where economies were growing, unemployment remained high and was likely to rise.

The meeting conveners also worried that the “lingering job loss” had a particularly risky prognosis given that even milder recessions in the past had produced heightened unemployment for an average of four years; and “this recession has wreaked more havoc than any since the Great Depression,” the DoL cautioned.

At the 2009 Pittsburgh Summit the G20 nations declared, “We cannot rest until the global economy is restored to full health and hard working families the world over can find decent jobs.” Further they had pledged to implement recovery plans that “support decent work, help preserve employment, and prioritise job growth,” and to continue to “provide income, social protection, and training support for the unemployed.”

In a statement the DoL struck a note of hope and reiterated these intentions saying “The G20 countries have already taken forceful and innovative steps to create and protect jobs and livelihoods. The ILO estimates that this year and last year alone, economic stimulus programmes and automatic stabilisers in place in G20 countries have saved or created 21 million jobs that would otherwise have vanished, cutting job losses by nearly 40 per cent.”

In particular the wrenching conditions in labour markets globally have spurred on many countries to significantly strengthen their social safety nets, expanding unemployment benefits, cash transfer programmes and access to health care and pensions. The U.S. has led these efforts in the West, with massive stimulus and unemployment benefits packages put in place early last year.

Regarding the DoL's intention behind the gathering, it hoped that “the Labour and Employment Ministers' Meeting will enable Ministers to showcase what they've done and share information about what has worked and what has not — and why.” It said they would take stock of current trends in labour markets and the latest research by the ILO and OECD and then decide on additional steps needed to create even more jobs, adding that they would prepare a series of recommendations for the G20 Leaders.

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