Hundreds of millions of new jobs will be needed to keep up with world population growth by 2020, the World Bank says.
The bank's report highlights the importance of jobs to development.
As populations surge in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa the number of positions will need to increase by 600 million over 2005 levels, the report said.
The global economic crisis poses a challenge to that goal as some 200 million people remain unemployed, including 75 million under the age of 25.
The World Bank said the most influential development gains can come from jobs that not only provide a source of income to workers but also make cities function better, connect with global markets, protect the environment, foster civic engagement and reduce poverty.
"A good job can change a person's life, and the right jobs can transform entire societies. Governments need to move jobs to centre stage to promote prosperity and fight poverty," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said.
"It's critical that governments work well with the private sector, which accounts for 90 per cent of all jobs. Therefore, we need to find the best ways to help small firms and farms grow. Jobs equal hope. Jobs equal peace. Jobs can make fragile countries become stable."
The World Bank urged governments to work with the private sector to encourage job growth and foster positive business environments, and design labour policies that create more jobs.