The Eurozone could see its jobless numbers grow another 4.5 million to 22 million in four years without concerted job creation effort, warns a U.N. report.
The report released by the International Labor Organization's International Institute for Labor Studies, based in Geneva, Switzerland, says there are currently 17.4 million people without jobs (11 percent) in the 17 countries making up the single-currency Eurozone.
The report "Eurozone job crisis: trends and policy responses," warned without a policy shift, all countries in the Eurozone, both those currently under stress and their healthier counterparts, will suffer.
"It's not only the Eurozone that's in trouble, the entire global economy is at risk of contagion," said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia. "Unless targeted measures are taken to increase real economy investments, the economic crisis will deepen and the employment recovery will never take off."
He said there is a need for a global consensus on a new path for job-intensive growth and globalization.
A prolonged labor market recession would be particularly hard on young job seekers, the report said.
It said joblessness has risen in more than half of the region since 2010. More than one-third of working-age people are either unemployed or excluded from the labor market, and long-term unemployment is rising.
Job losses have been especially acute in Southern Europe, but even Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and Malta -- the only countries where employment has risen since 2008 -- are seeing signs that the labor market situation may no longer be improving.
The report said the loss of jobs would have been even worse but for companies retaining workers in the hope economic conditions would improve. If these expectations are not met, worker retention may become unsustainable, leading to significant jobs losses.
The report said a recovery is still possible within a single-currency setting, if leaders embrace a Eurozone growth strategy with jobs at its core.