Economy & Markets

Trends in unemployment rates across OECD countries have diverged significantly

By James Langton |

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that the unemployment rate for the OECD region was stable at 8.0% in December 2012, although the experience of various countries continues to differ dramatically.

The Paris-based OECD says that trends in unemployment rates across OECD countries have diverged significantly since the beginning of the economic and financial crisis. For example, unemployment rates were significantly below the peaks they reached in the aftermath of the crisis in Canada and the United States (1.7 and 2.1percentage points lower, respectively).

Whereas, in December, the unemployment rate in Japan was close to its pre-crisis level. In Germany, the rate was significantly below that level. Whereas, the unemployment rate reached a new peak recently in several European countries, including France, Italy, and Portugal. And, for Greece the rate hit 26.8% in October, which is the latest month of available data.

The group reports that the unemployment rate was stable in the U.S. in December, and it fell in Canada (by 0.1 percentage points to 7.1%), but rose in Japan. And, that more recent data referring for January, shows that the unemployment rate rose in the U.S., while it continued to fall in Canada (by 0.1 percentage point to 7.0%).

It also says that the unemployment rate in the euro area has been stable for two consecutive months, for the first time since May 2011, after 17 months of uninterrupted increase.

Overall, there were 48.2 million people unemployed in the OECD area in December 2012, up by 13.5 million from July 2008.