Unemployment in Asia-Pacific has increased despite high economic growth

Unemployment in Asia-Pacific countries has increased despite the region's strong economic growth, partly because the labor force has been growing faster than the pace of job creation, a U.N. report said Thursday.

"Asia is growing fast, 6-7 percent, but there is a high rate of unemployment," said Kim Hak-Su, executive secretary of the U.N.'s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific at briefing at which the report was released.

Unemployment in the region grew by anywhere from 20 percent to 56 percent, depending on the country, during the decade leading up to 2004, when it reached 3.6 percent to 6.4 percent, the report showed.

In East Asia, which includes China, South Korea and Taiwan, the number of people unemployed grew from 4 million in 1992 to 9 million in 2002, while in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, the number rose from 5.5 million to 14.6 million.

Unemployment grew by 7 million in South Asia, which includes India, over the same period, it said.

In the past five years, only East Asian countries managed to lower the unemployment rate, by 0.2 percent, it said.

"Without growth, we cannot reduce poverty, but growth alone is not sufficient," Kim said.

Governments could alleviate the problem of jobless growth by adopting flexible labor market policies such as relaxing strict hiring and firing regulations to reduce the retention of unwanted employees and focusing more on labor intensive sectors while maintaining employment in other areas.

Kim said the economic growth rate of developing countries in the region decelerated, reports the AP.


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