Marginal fall in OECD unemployment rate in September 2020 as pace of improvement slows

The OECD area unemployment rate continued to fall, albeit at a slower pace, in September 2020, to 7.3 %, from 7.4 % in August. The rate remains 2.1 percentage points higher than in February, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the labour market.

Some care is needed in interpreting recent falls in the OECD unemployment rate, as this largely reflects the return of temporary laid-off workers in the United States and Canada, where they are recorded as unemployed , whereas they are typically recorded as employed in most other countries.

In the Euro Area, where temporary lay-offs are not included in unemployment, the unemployment rate was stable at 8.3 % in September, 1.0 percentage point higher than in February. France saw the highest increase (up by 0.4 percentage point, to 7.9 %) within the euro area, while Latvia (8.4%) and Portugal (7.7 %) saw the largest decreases (0.4 percentage point).

In Canada and the United States, headline unemployment rates continued to fall, as temporary lay-offs returned to work. In September, the unemployment rate fell by 1.2 percentage points, to 9.0 %, in Canada, and by 0.5 percentage point, to 7.9 %, in the United States. Excluding persons on temporary lay-off unemployment increased by 0.6 million  in the United States. In October, the unemployment rate continued to fall in the United States (to 6.9%), while it declined marginally in Canada (to 8.9 %). In September, the unemployment rate also declined by 0.3 percentage point or more in Colombia (to 16.6%) and Mexico (to 4.7%), while it was stable in Japan (at 3.0%), and increased by 0.6 percentage point or more in Korea (to 3.9%) and Iceland (to 5.6%).

The OECD youth unemployment rate (people aged 15 to 24) declined by 0.8 percentage point in September, to 14.6 %, 3.4 percentage points higher than in February.

b: Break in time series Notes:

(1) Breaks in the Labour Force Survey data for Belgium in Q1 2017 and for Sweden in Q3 2018.

(2) Canada: Unemployment rate for October 2020 was 8.9%.

(3) Germany: Due to the introduction of the new German system of integrated household surveys, data from January 2020 onwards are estimations.

(4) Mexico: April, May and June 2020 monthly figures are based on the INEGI ETOE phone survey. These data are not strictly comparable with the results for earlier months. Data from July 2020 are based on the New ENOE survey, combining telephone and face-to-face interviews.

(5) United States: Unemployment rate for October 2020 was 6.9 %.

b: Break in time series

Notes:

(1) Germany: Due to the introduction of the new German system of integrated household surveys, data from January 2020 onwards are estimations.

(2) Mexico: April, May and June 2020 monthly figures are based on the INEGI ETOE phone survey. These data are not strictly comparable with the results for earlier months. Data from July 2020 are based on the New ENOE survey, combining telephone and face-to-face interviews.

(3) Turkey: Due to changes introduced in the Labour Force Survey, data by gender from January 2014 onwards are OECD estimates.

b: Break in time series

Notes:

(1) Belgium and Slovenia: For youth unemployment, quarterly data are shown

(2) Germany: Due to the introduction of the new German system of integrated household surveys, data from January 2020 onwards are estimations.

(3) Israel: Data shown in this table are not seasonally adjusted.

(4) Mexico: April, May and June 2020 monthly figures are based on the INEGI ETOE phone survey. These data are not strictly comparable with the results for earlier months. Data from July 2020 are based on the New ENOE survey, combining telephone and face-to-face interviews.

b: Break in time series

Notes:

(1) Germany: Due to the introduction of the new German system of integrated household surveys, data from January 2020 onwards are estimations.

(2) Mexico: April, May and June 2020 monthly figures are based on the INEGI ETOE phone survey. These data are not strictly comparable with the results for earlier months. Data from July 2020 are based on the New ENOE survey, combining telephone and face-to-face interviews.

(3) Break in the Labour Force Survey data for Sweden in Q3 2018.

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