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Unemployment in the world after the pandemic

The unemployment rate in the United States rose sharply as the response to the pandemic affected its economy. How have other countries fared?

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) gathers economic data from its member countries. This provides a mechanism for comparing the performance of economies as influenced by each country’s response to the pandemic. A statistic that many use as a measure, including United States President Donald J. Trump, is the unemployment rate. 1

Unemployment rates were steady or declining until the pandemic, or the response to the pandemic, affected economies. The nearby chart, which starts with July 2018, illustrates. In includes data through June 2020 for the United States, and through May for the other included countries.

Most countries (or groups of countries) saw a rise in the unemployment rate, followed by a decline. Notably, the unemployment rate for the U.S. rose to a higher value than the other countries included on the chart. This is after having nearly the lowest rate before the pandemic.

Also notable is Japan. Its unemployment rate has been trending upward slowly this year, but hasn’t experienced the spike that other countries saw.

Here is a link to the chart, or use the embedded version below.

The Euro area is countries that have adopted the Euro as currency. These are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.

G7, the Group of Seven, is a group of seven large economies, consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.


  1. OECD defines the unemployment rate as follows: “The unemployed are people of working age who are without work, are available for work, and have taken specific steps to find work. The uniform application of this definition results in estimates of unemployment rates that are more internationally comparable than estimates based on national definitions of unemployment. This indicator is measured in numbers of unemployed people as a percentage of the labour force and it is seasonally adjusted. The labour force is defined as the total number of unemployed people plus those in employment. Data are based on labour force surveys (LFS). For European Union countries where monthly LFS information is not available, the monthly unemployed figures are estimated by Eurostat.” See https://data.oecd.org/unemp/unemployment-rate.htm.
By Bob Weeks

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