New York, NY (BBN) – The head of the United Nations labour agency has called for bold and innovative action to avert an unemployment crisis resulting from the current global financial turmoil, which could increase the number of jobless people worldwide by 20 million.

Preliminary estimates indicate that the financial crisis could increase the number of unemployed from 190 million in 2007 to 210 million in late 2009, noted Juan Somavia, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Besides, the number of working poor living on less than a dollar a day could rise by some 40 million – and those at $2 a day by more than 100 million. The sectors hit the hardest would be construction, automotive, tourism, finance, services and real estate, according to a UN press statement.

Mr. Somavia also said that the actual number could be even higher than the projections if the global community does not take immediate action to tackle the crisis.

While welcoming the calls for better financial regulation and a global surveillance system of checks and balances, the ILO chief emphasized the need to address issues beyond the financial system.

The current financial crisis will feature high on the agenda when Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convenes a meeting of his senior Chief Executives Board, which brings together the heads of the world body’s various entities, later this week in New York, according to the statement.

BBN/SI/SS/AD-21Octber08-10:23 AM (BST)