OECD Unemployment Still 10 Million Higher Than Before Crisis

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said unemployment in its member countries is only slowly declining and remains well above its pre-crisis level.

In its 2015 Employment Outlook, the Paris-based group said the number of unemployed has fallen to 42 million from 45 million in 2014, though that’s still 10 million more than just before the financial crisis struck.

The OECD also warned that long-term unemployment remains “unacceptably high,” with more than a third of jobseekers out of work for 12 months or more. That’s up 77 percent since 2007. For those out of work for two years or more, “their chances of finding work again are shrinking,” the OECD said.

“Time is running out to prevent the scars of the crisis becoming permanent, with millions of workers trapped at the bottom of the economic ladder,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria. “If that happens, the long-run legacy of the crisis would be to ratchet inequality up yet another notch from levels that were already far too high.”

The OECD forecasts that average unemployment in its 34 OECD countries will decline only very gradually this year and next. It sees the rate slipping from 7.1 percent at the end of 2014 to 6.6 percent in the last quarter of 2016. Jobless rates will remain above 20 percent in both Greece and Spain.