First-quarter employment across the 34-nation OECD area stood at 64.9% of working age people, the organisation said today.

This is 1.6 percentage points lower than before the 2008 economic crisis.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said 528 million people between the age of 15 & 64 were employed, or 2 million fewer than in the second quarter of 2008.

"Only in Chile, Germany and Turkey are employment rates significantly higher today than at the onset of the crisis," an OECD statement said.

The biggest drops of around eight percentage points or more were noted in three crisis-hit and bailed-out euro zone countries - Greece, Ireland and Spain.

The International Labour Organisation had warned yesterday that euro zone nations must act quickly to prevent another 4.5 million job losses over the next four years.

"In virtually all OECD countries, the job crisis continues to affect men more severely than women, and young people (aged 15 to 24) more than prime age workers (those aged 25 to 54)," the OECD said.

The youth employment rate contracted by 3.7 percentage points to 39.1%, while that of prime age workers was 1.6 percentage points lower at 75.6%.

The OECD includes many of the world's most developed nations but not emerging economies like Brazil, China, India or Russia.