Manila: The number of people out of work in Asia could surge by 23.3 million this year as the global financial crisis continues to batter the region’s economies, according to a study released on Wednesday.
The crisis could also force rural-to-urban migration to slow down, with many facing the prospect of returning to low paying agricultural sector as factories and firms slash jobs, the International Labour Organization (ILO) report said.
“A dramatic increase in working poverty of more than 140 million people by 2009 is projected under this scenario, representing regression of the Asia and Pacific region to a working poverty rate of 2004,” the study said.
“These projections are not just numbers, they carry with them a real risk that children may be forced to withdraw from school in order to work and support their families,” it said.
It said the region’s robust growth in the past was not matched by “broad-based gains in real wages,” leading to sharp inequalities in many countries.
“The substantial growth slowdown taking place is likely to lead to stagnant or falling real wages, with the potential for increased incidences of wage related disputes,” the study said.
As Asia moves to spend about 3.9% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on stimulus packages, there is also a need to protect employment and support household purchasing power, it said.