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The rate of employment in OECD countries is still well below pre-crisis levels

The OECD area employment rate – defined as the proportion of people of working age (those aged 15 to 64) who have a job – was 64.9% in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to new quarterly labour market statistics from the OECD released this morning. This is 1.6 percentage points lower than the 66.5% recorded in the second quarter of 2008, the quarter preceding the start of the global financial crisis.

Employment in most OECD countries is still below 2008 levels

There were 528 million persons employed in the OECD area in the fourth quarter of 2011, 2 million below the level observed at the onset of the crisis. Putting this into context, during the same period the working age population increased by 17 million persons, the unemployed increased by 13 million, and those not employed nor looking for employment (i.e. the inactive population) increased by 6 million.

Considering the entire period since the start of the crisis, there are large disparities in the way employment rates have changed across OECD countries. Since the second quarter of 2008, the employment rate has declined by around 2 percentage points in the European Union and Canada, by more than 4 percentage points in the United States, and by around 8 percentage points or more in Greece, Ireland and Spain. Only in Chile, Germany and Turkey is the employment rate significantly higher today than at the onset of the crisis.

In virtually all OECD countries, the job crisis is affecting men more severely than women, and young people (aged 15 to 24) more than prime age workers (those aged 25 to 54). Since the onset of the crisis, the employment rate for the OECD area as a whole has declined by 2.6 percentage points for men and by only 0.7 percentage points for women.

For youth, the employment rate has contracted by 3.3 percentage points compared to a 1.7 percentage points fall for prime age workers. Over the same period, employment rate for young people has declined by around 10 percentage points or more in Denmark, Greece, Iceland, and Portugal and by more than 15 percentage points in Ireland and Spain.

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Posted in Employment, OECD

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