Employment growth remained weak among the world’s 20 biggest economies, where almost a third of the 93 million unemployed had been out of work for more than a year, top labour and development officials said yesterday.

In a batch of new figures intended to push Group of 20 (G20) governments into action, the UN’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned that the rate of employment growth remained low. Over the past 12 months, unemployment dropped slightly in half of the G20 member countries, but it rose among the other half. It was highest, above 25 percent, in South Africa and Spain.

It was 11 percent or above in France, Italy and for the EU as a whole, and above 7 percent in Britain, Canada, Turkey and the US. Unemployment was below 5 percent in only four countries: China, India, Japan and South Korea.

Youth unemployment rates were twice as high as those for adults in all G20 nations except Germany and Japan, despite the wide use of subsidies to encourage hiring of young people in Britain, France, Italy, Saudi Arabia and Spain.

The weakness of the global economy even six years after the onset of the global financial crisis had “blunted” many countries’ efforts to find jobs for people, said Guy Ryder, the ILO director-general, and Angel Gurria, the OECD secretary-general, in a joint statement.

They advised labour ministers who were scheduled to begin two days of meetings today in Moscow that governments must ensure “a careful balancing between providing adequate income support for those out of work and with low incomes and activation measures which help them to find rewarding and productive jobs”. - Sapa-AP in Geneva