The monthly unemployment rate in the OECD area fell for the eighth consecutive month to 5.4% in December 2021, down from 5.5 % in November, bringing it to just 0.1 percentage point above the pre-pandemic rate recorded in February 2020 (see Figure 1). The number of unemployed workers across the OECD area also continued to fall (by 0.7 million) reaching 36.1 million, still 0.5 million above the pre-pandemic level. In December (or the latest period available), the unemployment rate was below the pre-pandemic level in Australia, Chile, France, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain and Turkey.
The unemployment rate in the OECD area declined among both women (to 5.6 %, from 5.7 % in November) and men (to 5.2 %, from 5.3 %). It fell at a faster pace among younger people aged 15 to 24 (to 11.5 %, from 11.8 % in November), than prime age and older workers aged 25 and above (to 4.6 %, from 4.7 %).
In the Euro Area, the unemployment rate also declined for the eighth month in a row in December (to 7.0 %, from 7.1 % in November), falling by 0.3 percentage point or more in Austria (to 4.9 %, from 5.2 %), Greece (to 12.7 %, from 13.3 %), Lithuania (to 5.6 %, from 6.0 %), Portugal (to 5.9 %, from 6.3 %) and Spain (to 13.0 %, from 13.4 %), but increasing by 0.4 percentage point in Finland (to 7.2 %, from 6.8 %). During the same month, the unemployment rate among the younger people in the Euro Area fell by 0.5 percentage point (to 14.9 %, from 15.4 %).
In December, the unemployment rate fell by 0.3 percentage point or more in Australia (to 4.2 %, from 4.6 % in November), Colombia (to 12.6 %, from 13.0 %), and the United States (to 3.9 %, from 4.2 %). It decreased by 0.1 percentage point in Canada (to 6.0 %) and Japan (to 2.7 %), but increased by 0.1 percentage point in Mexico (to 3.9 %) and by 0.7 percentage point in Korea (to 3.8 %). More recent data show that the unemployment rate rose by 0.5 percentage point in Canada (to 6.5 %) in January 2022 and by 0.1 percentage point in the United States (to 4.0 %) (see Figure 2).
It should be noted that the unemployment rate conceals the extent of the unmet labour demand as some non-employed people may be “out of the labour force”, and hence not captured by the unemployment rate, either because they are not actively looking for a job or are not available to work.
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 European countries which experienced a methodological break between December 2020 and January 2021 in their unemployment series were excluded from this list (see methodological changes in the EU Labour Force Survey).