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G20 summit urged to focus on weak jobs growth

A general view is seen of the Manezh Exhibition Center, venue for this week's meeting of G20 Finance Ministers, in Moscow July 16, 2013. REU
A general view is seen of the Manezh Exhibition Center, venue for this week's meeting of G20 Finance Ministers, in Moscow July 16, 2013. REU

GENEVA (Reuters) - The G20 group of leading economies must prioritize jobs at their summit in Moscow later this week, the International Labour Organization and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Wednesday.

Six years into the global financial crisis, the rate of employment growth remains weak in most G20 countries, ILO chief Guy Ryder and OECD head Ángel Gurría said in a statement launching a joint jobs report for the G20 meeting.

"The G20 will be assessed by public opinion around the world on its capacity to deliver on the growth and jobs agenda," they said.

Although half of the G20 members have seen a small drop in the unemployment rate in the past 12 months, the other half have seen rises, and in two countries - Spain and South Africa - it is now over 25 percent.

Total G20 unemployment reached 93 million in early 2013, with 30 percent of the unemployed out of work for more than a year.

Ryder and Gurria called for increased investment in infrastructure, more bank lending to small business, improved social safety nets and minimum wages, and better prospects for young people. In all G20 countries except Germany and Japan, the youth unemployment rate is at least double the rate for adults.

To return to pre-crisis employment levels, the G20 would need to create about 67 million jobs, they said.

The ILO and OECD's call for action on jobs echoes previous such appeals to the world's leading economies, which have in recent years been preoccupied with their response to the financial crisis, without a concerted plan for jobs.

This week's summit is expected to focus on slowing Chinese growth, the U.S. Federal Reserve's plans for exiting its bond-buying program, and Japan's economic stimulus program.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; editing by Ron Askew)

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