09/15/2011 12:28 EDT | Updated 11/15/2011 05:12 EST

Stubborn unemployment must be tackled, OECD says

The head of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development is telling governments to do more about the problem of stubborn unemployment.

In a report released Thursday, the OECD said the risk of high unemployment becoming entrenched has increased with a steep rise in long-term joblessness.

"Of all the facets of the financial and economic crisis, high unemployment is the most visible manifestation of the challenge to restore sustained growth," OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said, calling it the "human face" of the economic crisis.

“Governments cannot stand still. The challenges of tackling high and persistent unemployment, improving job opportunities and ensuring adequate social safety nets should be at the top of the political agenda.”

The OECD noted that long-term unemployment in Canada is among the lowest in the group. Through the first three months of this year, about 13 per cent of the country's unemployed had spent more than a year hunting for work. That compared with an OECD average of almost 35 per cent.

Weak job growth

Unemployment is expected to remain high among the 34 countries of the OECD with the job creation forecast to remain anemic in the near term, according to the group's report.

In mid-2011, the number of unemployed people in the OECD countries had declined to just over 44 million, but that was still more than 13 million higher than immediately before the crisis.

While the OECD said Canada's labour market is recovering faster than others, there is a risk that the recent faltering of the global recovery may temporarily slow the decline in unemployment in Canada back to its pre-crisis level

Last month, Canada's unemployment rate stood at 7.3 per cent as the country's lost 5,500 jobs.