Unemployment Rates, OECD – Updated: January 2022


Unemployment rate in the OECD area falls further to 5.5% in November 2021


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18 Jan 2022 – The monthly unemployment rate in the OECD area fell to 5.5% in November 2021, from 5.7% in October, extending the trend of reducing unemployment rates into a seventh consecutive month. However, it remained 0.2 percentage point above the pre-pandemic rate recorded in February 2020. The number of unemployed workers across the OECD area also continued to fall, by 1.1 million, reaching 36.9 million, which was still 1.5 million above the pre-pandemic level.

The unemployment rate in the OECD area declined among both women (to 5.8%, from 5.9% in October) and men (to 5.3%, from 5.5%). For younger people (aged 15 to 24), it fell slightly to 11.8% from 11.9% in October and remained 0.3 percentage point above its pre-pandemic level.

The euro area also recorded a decrease in the unemployment rate for the seventh month in a row in November (to 7.2%, from 7.3% in October), with declines of 0.3 percentage point or more in Austria (to 5.3%, from 5.7% in October), Lithuania (to 6.0%, from 6.5%) and Spain (to 14.1%, from 14.4%). By contrast, it increased by 0.3 percentage point, to 7.3%, in Latvia.

In November, the unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage point or more in Australia (to 4.6%, from 5.2% in October), Canada (to 6.0%, from 6.7%), Colombia (to 12.5%, from 13.0%), the Czech Republic (to 2.2%, from 2.6%), Israel (to 4.5%, from 4.9%) and the United States (to 4.2%, from 4.6%). It also declined, to a lesser extent, in Korea (to 3.1%, from 3.2%) and Mexico (to 3.8%, from 3.9%), while it rose slightly in Japan (to 2.8%, from 2.7%). More recent data show that in December the unemployment rate declined further in Canada (to 5.9%) and the United States (to 3.9%).

The fall in the OECD area unemployment rate when compared with the April 2020 peak should be interpreted with caution, as it largely reflects the return of temporary laid-off workers in the United States and Canada, where they are recorded as unemployed, unlike in most other countries, including European member states, where they are recorded as employed. In addition, methodological changes to the EU Labour Force Survey blur the comparison for several European Union countries between December 2020 and subsequent months. Furthermore, the unemployment rate may conceal additional slack in the labour market as some non-employed people may be “out of the labour force”, either because they are not able to actively look for work or are not available to work.

In November (or in latest period available), unemployment rates were below the pre-pandemic level in Australia, Chile, France, Italy, Korea, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal and Turkey.1



OECD Chart: Unemployment rate, Total, % of labour force, Monthly, Apr 2005 – May 2020

Breaks between December 2020 and January 2021 for several EU Member States can affect aggregates for the euro area and OECD Total.

Link to underlying data – Source: Labour Force Statistics‌‌



Source: OECD calculations based on US Current Population Survey







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