Unemployment Rates, OECD - Updated: November 2021


Unemployment rate continues to fall in the OECD area, reaching 5.8% in September 2021


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9 Nov. 2021 - The monthly unemployment rate in the OECD area fell for the fifth consecutive month in September 2021, to 5.8% (from 6.0% in August), 0.5 percentage point above the pre-pandemic rate observed in February 2020. The number of unemployed workers across the OECD area continued to fall (by 1.1 million), reaching 38.7 million, still 3.3 million above the pre-pandemic level. The unemployment rate for the OECD area declined at the same pace among women (to 6.0% in September 2021, from 6.1% in August) and men (to 5.7%, from 5.8%), but declined at a faster pace among younger people aged 15 to 24 (to 12.1%, from 12.4% in August) than the prime age and older workers aged 25 and above (to 5.0%, from 5.1%).

The fall in the OECD area unemployment rate since 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 EU countries between December 2020 and subsequent months (see methodological notes at the end of this new release). Furthermore, the unemployment rate may conceal additional slack in the labour market due to the pandemic 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.

The euro area unemployment rate declined slightly in September (to 7.4%, from 7.5% in August), with falls of 0.3 percentage point or more in Austria (to 5.2%, from 5.9%), France (to 7.7%, from 8.0%), Greece (to 13.3%, from 13.8%), Latvia (to 6.8%, from 7.1%) and Lithuania (to 6.7%, from 7.2%), contrasting with an increase of 0.5 percentage point in Finland (to 7.7%, from 7.2%).

In September, the unemployment rate also declined in the United States (to 4.8%, from 5.2% in August), Canada (to 6.9%, from 7.1%) and Mexico (to 3.9%, from 4.1%), but it increased in Israel (to 5.2%, from 5.0%), Korea (to 3.0%, from 2.8%) and Australia (to 4.6%, from 4.5%). No change was recorded in Colombia (12.7%) or Japan (2.8%). More recent data show that in October 2021 the unemployment rate declined further, by 0.2 percentage point, in Canada (to 6.7%) and the United States (to 4.6%). 

In September, in Canada, Colombia, Israel and the United States, the unemployment rate remained more than 1.0 percentage point above the rate observed in February 2020. By contrast, it stood below the pre-pandemic rate in Australia, Korea and New Zealand).


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


‌‌Composition of the United States unemployment rate

Source: OECD calculations based on US Current Population Survey







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