Labour statistics

Labour Market Situation, OECD - Updated: July 2022


Unemployment rate in the OECD stabilises at 5% in May 2022


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13 July 2022 - The unemployment rate in the OECD stabilised at 5.0% in May 2022 – its lowest level since the series began in 2001 (Figure 1, Table 1). The May unemployment rate was below or equal to the pre-pandemic rate in two thirds of OECD countries (Figure 2). The number of unemployed workers in the OECD remained broadly stable at 33.8 million (Table 2).

The OECD unemployment rate for women rose marginally for the first time since December 2020 (Table 3). The unemployment rate for men and for workers aged 25 and above was stable, while it continued to decline among younger workers (aged 15 to 24) (Tables 3 and 4).

In the euro area, the unemployment rate fell slightly, to 6.6% in May from 6.7% in April, and was stable in one-third of euro area countries. The largest declines within the euro area were observed in Italy, Lithuania and Spain and the largest increases in Austria, Belgium, and Portugal. In June 2022, the unemployment rate remained stable, at 3.6% for the fourth consecutive month, in the United States while it declined further in Canada to 4.9%.

At the onset of the war in Ukraine, both the employment and the labour force participation rates in the OECD were at their highest levels since the start of the series in 2005 and 2008 respectively. The OECD employment rate, which is the percentage share of the working-age population with jobs, including both employees and self-employed, climbed to 69.0% in the first quarter of 2022 (Figure 3). The employment rate increased in 90% of OECD countries (Table 5).

The OECD labour force participation rate – the share of the working-age population that is either employed or unemployed – hit 72.9% in the first quarter of 2022, reaching the level recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019 for the first time (Figure 4 and Table 6).

The fall in the OECD unemployment rate when compared with 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.

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(2) For Greece, Costa Rica, Chile, and Türkiye change between February 2020 and April 2022; for the United Kingdom, change between February 2020 and March 2022; for New Zealand and Switzerland, change between fourth quarter 2019 and first quarter 2022.


A large part of the increase in the employment rate for the OECD in the third quarter of 2020 and, to a lesser extent, fourth quarter of 2020 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.

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