Employment policies and data

Unemployment in OECD countries to approach 10% in 2010, says OECD


23/06/2009 - Unemployment in OECD countries will continue to rise well into 2010, with the average unemployment rate approaching 10%, up from 7.8% in April, according to new OECD projections.

More than 57 million people will be unemployed in OECD countries by the end of 2010, according to OECD estimates, up from 37.2 million at the end of 2008, when the average unemployment rate was 6.8%. The expected increase will bring OECD-wide unemployment to 9.9% at the end of 2010, its highest level since the 1970s, with an average for the year of 9.8%. Unemployment touched a recent low point of 5.5% in the last quarter of 2007, standing at 31.6 million at the end of that year. 

“Unemployment will continue to weigh on national economies for a long time to come,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “Previous downturns have taught us that the jobs recovery will lag a long way behind the pickup in economic growth.The OECD is working closely with countries to adapt their policies in order to better help the unemployed and avoid high unemployment levels becoming persistent", he added.

Pending a recovery in labour markets, the OECD says governments should make efforts to help the most vulnerable by ensuring that financial safety nets are adequate for job losers and low-income families and making it a priority to tackle rising youth unemployment.

Greater efforts should be made to provide training opportunities, in order to help people who lose their job stay in contact with the labour market and enhance their skills, the OECD says. For the most hard-to-place unemployed, targeted hiring and the provision of subsidies to help pay for in-job work experience would also help.


Figure 1. Changes in unemployment rates and in the number of unemployed, December 2007 - April 2009

Rapid Surge in unemployment in the many OECD countries during the downturn. (Download the excel file of this chart)


For comment or further information, journalists should contact Stefano Scarpetta, head of the OECD’s Employment division (tel. + 33 1 45 24 19 88). The OECD’s latest Economic Outlook with forecasts and analysis for member countries and other major economies, which is the source of these unemployment figures, will be released at 10.30 a.m. Paris time on Wednesday 24 June, 2009.

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