Global youth unemployment has hit a record high following the financial crisis and is likely to get worse later this year, the International Labor Organization (ILO) said Thursday.
The report from the ILO says 81 million out of 630 million 15-24 year olds where unemployed at the end of 2009, some 7.8 million more than at the end of 2007.
Thursday marks the first day of the UN International Youth Year; the ILO warned these trends will have "significant consequences for young people as upcoming cohorts of new entrants join the ranks of the already unemployed."
The world risks a crisis legacy of a "lost generation" of young people who dropped out of the job market, the organization added in its report.
The report also points out that the unemployment rates of youth have proven to be more sensitive to the crisis than the rates of adults and that the recovery of the job market for young men and women is likely to lag behind that of adults.
It indicates that in developed and some emerging economies, the crisis impact on youth is felt mainly in terms of rising unemployment and the social hazards associated with discouragement and prolonged inactivity.
"In developing countries, crisis pervades the daily life of the poor" said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia.
"The effects of the economic and financial crisis threaten to exacerbate the pre-existing decent work deficits among youth," Somavia said. "The result is that the number of young people stuck in working poverty grows and the cycle of working poverty persists through at least another generation."
Investment in education will be lost and governments will not receive contributions to social security systems, while at the same time being forced to raise spending on services to correct the problem, if the situation continues, he warned.
"Young people are the drivers of economic development," Somavia said. "Foregoing this potential is an economic waste and can undermine social stability."
He sees the crisis as "an opportunity to re-assess strategies for addressing the serious disadvantages that young people face as they enter the labor market."