Unemployment rate in the OECD stabilises at 5 % in May 2022


In July 2022, the OECD combined the statistical press releases Monthly Unemployment Rates News Release and Quarterly Employment Situation News Release (latest releases here) into a unique Labour Market Situation News Release. Both releases relied on the OECD Short-Term Labour Statistics dataset. The new release will have a quarterly frequency and will be published in January, April, July and October. In all other months of the year, with the exception of August, the OECD will produce the Unemployment News Release. This change will allow the OECD to produce a more comprehensive analysis of the labour market situation, by providing an overview of different labour market indicators altogether in a single press release.

The unemployment rate in the OECD stabilised at 5.0% in May 2022 its lowest level since the series began in 2001 (Figure 1, Table 1). The May unemployment rate was below or equal to the pre-pandemic rate in two thirds of OECD countries (Figure 2). The number of unemployed workers in the OECD remained broadly stable at 33.8 million (Table 2).


The OECD unemployment rate for women rose marginally for the first time since December 2020 (Table 3). The unemployment rate for men and for workers aged 25 and above was stable, while it continued to decline among younger workers (aged 15 to 24) (Tables 3 and 4).


In the euro area, the unemployment rate fell slightly, to 6.6 % in May from 6.7 % in April, and was stable in one-third of euro area countries. The largest declines within the euro area were observed in Italy, Lithuania and Spain and the largest increases in Austria, Belgium, and Portugal. In June 2022, the unemployment rate remained stable, at 3.6 % for the fourth consecutive month, in the United States while it declined further in Canada to 4.9 %.

At the onset of the war in Ukraine, both the employment and the labour force participation rates in the OECD were at their highest levels since the start of the series in 2005 and 2008 respectively. The OECD employment rate, which is the percentage share of the working-age population with jobs, including both employees and self-employed, climbed to 69.0% in the first quarter of 2022 (Figure 3). The employment rate increased in 90% of OECD countries (Table 5).

The OECD labour force participation rate – the share of the working-age population that is either employed or unemployed  – hit 72.9% in the first quarter of 2022, reaching the level recorded in the fourth quarter of 2019 for the first time (Figure 4 and Table 6).


Methodological information:

The OECD unemployment rate is calculated as the total number of unemployed people in all OECD countries as a percentage of the total labour force (i.e. the unemployed plus those in employment).

For countries for which unemployment data for the most recent month or quarter are not available, the latest available data are used to compile data for the OECD total.

All rates and levels are seasonally adjusted (s.a.).

For further methodological information, including the impact of COVID-19 on employment and unemployment statistics, see: Methodological Notes for OECD Unemployment and Labour Market Situation News Releases

Access Data:

OECD Database Short Term Labour Market:

Statistics http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?QueryId=82174

The entry into force in 2021 of the Integrated European Social Statistics (IESS) Framework Regulation resulted in a new methodology of the EU Labour Force Survey, updating the definitions of the labour status. Information by country on the status of the implementation of IESS regulation as well as on possible resulting breaks in time series can be found in a Eurostat Statistics Explained article.

Statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.