Labour statistics

Employment situation, OECD, fourth quarter 2021


The employment rate in the OECD rises to 68.7% in Q4 2021, close to its pre-pandemic rate


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21 Apr 2022 - The OECD employment rate, which is the percentage share of the working-age population with jobs, including both employees and self-employed, rose to 68.7% in the fourth quarter of 2021, from 68.2% in the third quarter, only 0.2 percentage point below the rate recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The OECD labour force participation rate – the share of the working-age population that is either employed or unemployed – slightly rose to 72.8%, again approaching the level recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019, as increases in employment were reflected in corresponding declines in unemployment. These latest figures inevitably exclude any potential impact of the current economic and geopolitical uncertainties on the OECD labour market.

The OECD employment rate rose in all groups. It continued to increase for women to 61.5% and men to 76.0% in the fourth quarter of 2021 (Table 2) and across all age groups (Table 3). Nonetheless, employment rates remained below pre-pandemic levels for all groups.

Increases in the employment rate were reported in four fifths of OECD countries. The largest increases (above 1.0 percentage point) were observed in Chile, Iceland, Israel and Turkey, with declines only recorded in Belgium, Colombia, Latvia, Luxembourg and Slovenia.

The employment rate rose by 0.4 percentage point, to 68.8%, in the euro area, with the largest increases recorded in Finland and Ireland. It increased in Canada, to 74.7%, its highest level since comparable data became available in 1976, and in the United States to 70.5%, still 1.2 percentage points below the pre-pandemic rate. More recent data for the first quarter of 2022 show that employment rates increased further in the United States (to 71.0%) and Canada (to 75.1%).

In the fourth quarter, employment rates were above or at the same level as pre-pandemic levels in 23 OECD countries (Figure 2),1 and for the first time in Canada, Lithuania and the Slovak Republic. 


In the third quarter of 2020 and, to a lesser extent, fourth quarter of 2020, a large part of the increase in the employment rate for the OECD-Total reflects the return to work of furloughed workers in Canada and the United States, where they are recorded as unemployed, whereas in most other countries, they are recorded as employed.

Link to underlying data - Source: Quarterly Labour Market Statistics, OECD


Changes in employment rates (persons aged 15-64) for selected OECD countries between Q4 2019 and Q4 2021

Due to breaks for Iceland in Q4 2020 and for Norway and Turkey in Q1 2021, these countries are not included in the chart.



1. Due to breaks for Iceland in Q4 2020 and for Norway and Turkey in Q1 2021, these countries are not included in this list.







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