Unemployment Rates Reach Record Lows in Several Countries

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported that the unemployment rate remained at 4.8% in March 2023, which marks its third consecutive month at a record low since 2001. This figure has not changed significantly since November 2022, when it was also 4.8%. In addition, the monthly unemployment rate was unchanged in 15 out of the 37 OECD countries surveyed in March 2023, declining in 14 and increasing in just five.

Of these 37 countries, there are now only eight where the unemployment rate is at or near its record low. These include Canada, France, Germany, and the United States. Of these eight countries, the United States saw the biggest drop in unemployment, falling by 0.1 percentage points to 3.9%. Meanwhile, Australia, Italy, and Norway saw the smallest decrease, with each country seeing a reduction of just 0.1 percentage points.

The total number of unemployed individuals fell slightly in March 2023, dropping from 33.2 million in February to 33.1 million. Despite this slight decline, the overall figure remains close to its lowest level ever, which was recorded in July 2022, when the number of unemployed people stood at 32.9 million.

When looking specifically at youth unemployment, the OECD reported that the rate among workers aged 15-24 years old dropped to 10.5% in March 2023, marking its lowest level since 2005. This figure represents a decline of 0.1 percentage points compared to the previous month. The largest reductions in the youth unemployment rate were seen in Austria, Denmark, Greece, Latvia, and Sweden. Interestingly, the rate for young workers in Greece declined the most, slipping from 20.5% in February to 18.4% in March 2023 – a significant improvement.

For both men and women in the workforce, the unemployment rate remained stable in March 2023. The rate for women was 5.0% while for men it was slightly lower at 4.6%. Similarly, the rate for workers aged 25 and over remained constant at 4.3%.

Turning our attention to the Eurozone, the region as a whole experienced a slight decrease in unemployment in March 2023, bringing the rate down to a new record low of 6.5%. All but two European Union member states saw either a stable or declining unemployment rate during the month, with Austria and Greece experiencing the biggest drops. That being said, some countries still have a way to go before they reach their pre-pandemic lows, with unemployment rates remaining higher than usual in Greece, Luxembourg, and Spain.

Looking beyond Europe, several non-European OECD countries also experienced changes in their unemployment rates. Colombia and the United States saw a fall in their respective jobless figures, while other non-European OECD nations generally witnessed stable employment situations. On the flip side, Japan and South Korea experienced rising joblessness, though, again, from a low starting point.

Recent data shows that Canada’s unemployment rate stayed put at 5.0% in April 2023, holding steady since December 2022. Meanwhile, across the border in the United States, the jobless rate dipped further to hit a fresh record low of 3.4%.