World jobless numbers rose by 4 million in 2012 to 197 million and is expected to grow further, the UN labour agency warns.
In a recent report, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said the worst affected were youth: nearly 13% of the under 24s were unemployed.
It said global unemployment was projected to rise 5.1 million this year and by a further 3 million in 2014.
The trend reflected a downturn in economic growth, the document said.
This was particularly the case in developed countries.
The report – Global Employment Trends 2013 – said that 6% of the world’s workforce were without a job in 2012.
It revealed that long-term unemployment was also growing, pointing out that a third of Europe’s jobless had been without work for more than a year.
Many were giving up, with the report estimating that 39 million people had withdrawn from the labour market.
“An uncertain economic outlook, and the inadequacy of policy to counter this, has weakened aggregate demand, holding back investment and hiring,” ILO director general Guy Ryder said.
The report also called for more funds to be injected in vocational training to equip young people to do the jobs available.
“This is a massive waste of the lives of young people and their talents, and extraordinarily damaging to the people themselves and their societies,” Guy Ryder said.
The ILO pointed out that countries which had retained apprenticeships – such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland – had the lowest levels of youth unemployment.