13 Oct. 2021 - The OECD area monthly unemployment rate fell for the fourth consecutive month, albeit slightly, in August 2021, to 6.0% (from 6.1% in July). While the rate remains 0.7 percentage point above the pre-pandemic rate as at February 2020, this latest update represents a continuation of the downward trend since the peak of 8.8% in April 2020, with the exception of April 2021. However, some care is needed in interpreting the fall in the OECD area unemployment rate when compared with the April 2020 peak, as it largely reflects the return of temporary laid-off workers in the United States and Canada, where they are recorded as unemployed. The number of unemployed workers across the OECD area continued to fall (by 1.0 million) in August 2021, reaching 39.7 million, still 4.3 million above the level in February 2020.
In the euro area, the unemployment rate reached 7.5% in August 2021, down slightly from 7.6% in July, getting closer to pre-pandemic rates. There were falls of 0.3 percentage point or more in Greece (to 13.2%, from 14.2% in July), Finland (to 7.2%, from 7.8%), Spain (to 14.0%, from 14.5%), Latvia (to 7.1%, from 7.5%) and Lithuania (to 7.2%, from 7.5%).
Outside the euro area, the largest decreases in unemployment rates in August (from July) were observed in Colombia (to 12.7%, from 13.6%), Korea (to 2.8%, from 3.3%), Canada (to 7.1%, from 7.5%) and the United States (to 5.2%, from 5.4%), while slight changes or no changes were observed in most other countries, including Australia (at 4.5%, from 4.6%), Japan (2.8%), Mexico (at 4.1%, from 4.2%), Poland (at 3.4%) and Turkey (at 12.1%). More recent data show that in September 2021 the unemployment rate declined further in the United States (by 0.4 percentage point, to 4.8%) and Canada(by 0.2 percentage point, to 6.9%).
Link to underlying data - Source: Labour Force Statistics
Source: OECD calculations based on US Current Population Survey
1. New methodology in the EU Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) from 2021 with the entry into force of the Integrated European Social Statistics (IESS) Framework Regulation, resulted in updated definitions of the labour status. These changes result in time series breaks between December 2020 and January 2021 for several European Union Member States. More details on the main methodological changes to the EU LFS can be found here.
2. For Canada and the United States, the statistical treatment of people on temporary layoff is different from other OECD countries, where these people are typically recorded as employed. See the note on the divergence in employment and unemployment statistics during the COVID-19 crisis in the end of this News Release.