Unemployment is an economic condition in which individuals actively seeking jobs remain un-hired. While this would seem to be straightforward, there are several complications in both measuring unemployment within a country and in comparing unemployment rates from country to country.

Author: Valentina Pasquali
Project Coordinator: S.J. Yun

 

According to International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates, the global economic crisis increased world unemployment from 178 million in 2007 to 212 million in late 2009.

In the United States, the unemployment rate hit a record high in 2010 (9.6%,) but then started decreasing. It was 8.9% in 2011 and, as of September 2014, it had fell to 5.9% (data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Government.)

The Euro area has been particularly hard hit in the recent crisis. Unemployment was at 9.6% in 2009 and has continued to grow since, to 10.1% in 2010, 10.2% in 2011 and 11.9% in 2013. Unsurprisingly, Greece and Ireland have been faced with some of the fastest growing rates. In Greece, unemployment was only 7.7% in 2008. It then went up to 9.5% in 2009, 12.6% in 2010 and 17.7% in 2011. By 2013 it had hit a staggering 27.5%. Spain’s unemployment has also reached dramatic proportions, going from 8.2% in 2007 to 26.1% in 2013. Ireland has suffered a similar fate, seeing its unemployment rate jump from 6.3% in 2008 to 14.7% in 2011, though it has decreased since, hovering around 13% in 2013. Italy, on the other hand, seems to be still spiraling down, with unemployment growing from 6.1% in 2007 to 12.2% in 2013. After hitting an unemployment peak of 8.1% in 2011, things in the United Kingdom are gradually looking up, with the percentage of people out of work down to 7.6% in 2013. Japan has experienced a lesser shock, with unemployment going from 4.0% in 2008 to 5.1% in 2009 and 2010, before dropping again to 4.0% in 2013.

Historically, women have been more affected by unemployment than men. However, that gap narrowed in the early part of the century and then stabilized. In the recent global economic downturn the unemployment rate for men became higher than that for women in many parts of the world, partly due to the hard hit on the construction industry around the world.

In addition, while unemployment among young people (most often defined as 15-to-24 year olds) is traditionally around double that for adults (since many young people are in school or newly graduated), in the recent recession that figure has increased to nearly three times the unemployment rate of adults, up to four times in some countries. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that global youth unemployment was at 12.6% in 2013, near its crisis peak, the equivalent of 73 million young people without jobs. “The weakening of the global recovery in 2012 and 2013 has further aggravated the youth jobs crisis and the queues for available jobs have become longer and longer for some unfortunate young jobseekers,” writes ILO in a recent report on the matter. “So long, in fact, that many youth are giving up on the job search.”

*Values are expressed in terms of a percentage.

Country
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
Albania 14.00 14.00 13.40 15.60 14.00 13.50
Algeria 9.96 9.97 11.00 9.83 10.78 11.33
Argentina 7.75 7.15 7.20 7.08 8.83 9.00
Armenia 19.00 19.00 19.00 18.50 18.00 17.90
Australia 5.22 5.08 5.23 5.66 6.16 6.05
Austria 4.42 4.15 4.38 4.90 5.00 4.90
Azerbaijan 6.05 6.05 6.05 6.05 6.05 6.05
Bahrain 3.60 4.00 3.90 4.33 4.09 4.26
Barbados 10.75 11.21 11.60 11.73 15.24 15.09
Belarus 0.83 0.67 0.62 0.52 0.52 0.52
Belgium 8.27 7.25 7.68 8.43 8.50 8.41
Belize 13.72 14.93 16.15 14.09 14.09 13.67
Bhutan 3.30 3.10 3.20 3.20 3.20 3.20
Bolivia 6.50 6.50 6.43 6.35 6.28 6.21
Bosnia and Herzegovina 27.20 27.60 28.00 27.00 25.50 24.50
Brazil 6.74 5.98 5.48 5.38 5.50 6.06
Brunei Darussalam 2.70 2.70 2.70 2.70 2.70 2.70
Bulgaria 10.31 11.35 12.38 13.04 12.50 11.89
Cabo Verde 10.70 12.20 16.80 16.40 12.00 10.00
Canada 7.99 7.44 7.31 7.08 6.97 6.89
Chile 8.15 7.12 6.43 5.93 6.63 7.00
China 4.10 4.10 4.10 4.10 4.10 4.10
Colombia 11.80 10.83 10.38 9.65 9.30 9.00
Costa Rica 7.29 7.66 7.77 8.14 8.20 8.31
Croatia 12.10 13.58 16.06 16.62 16.79 17.12
Cyprus 6.29 7.91 11.91 15.89 16.59 16.13
Czech Republic 7.28 6.71 6.98 6.95 6.42 5.97
Denmark 7.48 7.57 7.53 7.02 6.90 6.60
Dominican Republic 5.00 5.78 6.45 7.02 6.37 5.97
Ecuador 7.59 6.00 4.93 4.74 5.00 5.00
Egypt 9.21 10.38 12.37 13.01 13.42 13.88
El Salvador 5.86 5.43 5.60 5.70 5.69 5.64
Estonia 16.71 12.33 10.02 8.63 6.97 6.98
Fiji 8.90 9.00 8.60 8.70 8.75 8.75
Finland 8.38 7.78 7.73 8.15 8.51 8.33
France 9.28 9.20 9.79 10.26 9.97 10.04
FYR Macedonia 32.05 31.38 31.30 30.02 28.96 28.05
Georgia 16.29 15.06 15.03 16.14 n/a n/a
Germany 7.08 5.96 5.47 5.31 5.27 5.25
Greece 12.53 17.65 24.24 27.25 25.76 23.84
Honduras 4.61 5.03 4.40 4.40 4.50 4.50
Hong Kong SAR 4.32 3.40 3.29 3.13 3.05 3.06
Hungary 11.20 11.00 11.00 10.30 8.20 7.80
Iceland 8.13 7.43 5.77 4.44 4.02 3.49
Indonesia 7.14 6.56 6.14 6.25 6.10 5.80
Ireland 13.85 14.63 14.67 13.05 11.22 10.46
Islamic Republic of Iran 13.48 12.30 12.20 10.44 11.58 12.24
Israel 8.25 7.05 6.85 6.28 6.00 6.00
Italy 8.42 8.42 10.68 12.21 12.57 11.97
Jamaica 12.38 13.00 13.93 15.28 15.28 15.28
Japan 5.04 4.57 4.34 4.03 3.71 3.78
Jordan 12.50 12.90 12.20 12.20 12.20 12.20
Kazakhstan 5.78 5.40 5.29 5.23 5.23 5.23
Korea 3.73 3.41 3.23 3.13 3.13 3.13
Kuwait 2.07 2.07 2.07 2.07 2.07 2.07
Kyrgyz Republic 8.60 7.92 7.74 7.65 7.56 7.46
Latvia 18.68 16.20 15.05 11.86 10.29 9.71
Lithuania 17.81 15.39 13.37 11.77 11.00 10.70
Luxembourg 5.80 5.70 6.12 6.86 7.06 6.93
Malaysia 3.30 3.05 3.03 3.10 3.00 3.00
Malta 6.87 6.39 6.31 6.38 6.00 6.10
Mauritius 7.80 7.90 8.00 8.00 n/a n/a
Mexico 5.37 5.22 4.96 4.92 4.75 4.50
Moldova 7.40 6.70 5.60 5.10 6.00 5.80
Mongolia 9.90 7.70 8.20 10.40 8.77 9.12
Morocco 9.06 8.91 8.99 9.24 9.14 9.04
Myanmar 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00
Netherlands 4.46 4.45 5.28 6.73 7.25 6.90
New Zealand 6.53 6.53 6.90 6.18 5.66 5.24
Nicaragua 7.83 5.93 5.91 5.90 5.90 5.90
Nigeria 21.10 23.90 n/a n/a n/a n/a
Norway 3.58 3.28 3.22 3.50 3.70 3.78
Pakistan 5.55 5.95 6.45 6.20 6.75 6.54
Panama 6.85 4.66 4.25 4.32 4.32 4.32
Paraguay 5.70 5.60 5.80 5.40 5.50 5.50
Peru 7.88 7.73 6.80 7.52 6.00 6.00
Philippines 7.33 7.03 7.03 7.10 6.90 6.80
Poland 9.64 9.63 10.09 10.33 9.50 9.50
Portugal 10.77 12.68 15.53 16.18 14.20 13.51
Romania 7.28 7.40 7.04 7.31 7.17 7.13
Russia 7.30 6.50 5.50 5.50 5.64 6.50
S„o TomÈ and PrÌncipe 13.71 13.50 13.90 13.68 13.47 13.04
San Marino 4.95 5.47 6.90 8.00 8.20 7.80
Saudi Arabia 5.55 5.77 5.40 5.50 n/a n/a
Serbia 20.00 24.40 23.10 21.00 21.57 21.78
Seychelles 4.61 4.13 3.71 3.33 2.98 2.68
Singapore 2.18 2.03 1.95 1.90 2.00 2.10
Slovak Republic 14.49 13.68 13.97 14.22 13.86 13.23
Slovenia 7.27 8.21 8.89 10.14 9.90 9.45
South Africa 24.88 24.80 24.88 24.73 25.22 25.00
Spain 19.85 21.40 24.80 26.10 24.64 23.54
Sri Lanka 5.00 4.10 4.00 4.00 4.00 4.00
Sudan 13.73 12.03 14.80 14.80 13.64 13.30
Suriname 7.56 8.01 8.50 8.50 8.93 8.93
Sweden 8.58 7.77 7.97 8.00 8.02 7.77
Switzerland 3.52 2.84 2.91 3.16 3.36 3.34
Syria 8.61 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Taiwan 5.21 4.39 4.24 4.18 4.00 4.00
Thailand 1.05 0.66 0.68 0.73 0.70 0.80
The Bahamas 15.08 15.89 14.69 16.18 16.35 15.89
Trinidad and Tobago 5.90 5.00 4.80 3.70 5.00 5.00
Tunisia 13.05 18.89 16.72 15.33 15.30 15.00
Turkey 11.13 9.10 8.43 9.04 9.48 9.92
Ukraine 8.10 7.86 7.53 7.17 9.97 9.80
United Kingdom 7.85 8.10 7.95 7.60 6.35 5.78
United States 9.63 8.93 8.08 7.35 6.29 5.95
Uruguay 7.02 6.33 6.33 6.60 6.81 6.85
Venezuela 8.51 8.20 7.82 7.47 7.99 10.38
Vietnam 4.29 4.51 4.47 4.42 4.42 4.42

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