OECD employment rate edges up to 67.4 per cent in second quarter

Hiring has accelerated in the eurozone, US and UK amid recovery from Covid-19 lockdowns

A worker delivers goods from a lorry advertising driving and warehouse vacancies in Leicester Square, London. Vacancies have increased in the UK amid a chronic labour shortage. AFP

Employment in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries rose slightly in the second quarter of 2021, as economies edged into recovery mode after the Covid-19 pandemic

The overall employment rate among the 38 members of the group reached 67.4 per cent in the three months to September 30, up from the 66.8 per cent recorded in the previous quarter.

“Increases were reported in more than four fifths of OECD countries,” the Paris-based organisation said in a statement on Thursday.

The OECD group includes several countries in the eurozone, as well as the US, Japan and the UK.

Hiring has accelerated in major economies as the rate of Covid-19 infections slows and movement restrictions ease, leading to increased economic activity.

In Britain, a number of major brands have gone on a hiring spree with the job vacancies in the UK hitting a record high of 1.2 million in September amid a chronic labour shortage, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Employment hit 75.1 per cent in the second quarter, according to the OECD, while the ONS found unemployment fell to 4.5 per cent in the three months to August, down from its pandemic peak of 5.2 per cent at the end of last year.

Earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund revised down global economic growth for 2021 to 5.9 per cent from its July estimate of 6 per cent as a result of Covid-19 outbreaks, uneven access to vaccines, supply chain disruptions and risks from rising inflation.

In the eurozone, the employment rate increased to 67.6 per cent in the second quarter of the year, the OECD said, slightly lower than the 68.9 per cent in the US and 72.4 per cent in Canada.

A large disparity was observed within the European economic bloc, with the employment rate ranging from a maximum of 79.3 per cent in Iceland to 56.4 per cent in Greece.

While the quarterly rise in employment across the OECD “suggests overall recovery towards pre-pandemic rates", the organisation said care is needed in interpreting the data.

The EU has changed its methodology in its Labour Force Survey, while a large part of the increases seen in the third and fourth quarters of 2020 in the US and Canada reflect the return to work of furloughed workers.

A strong increase in the employment rate was also observed in Mexico, while Australia and Japan recorded slight increases.

The figure declined, however, in Costa Rica and Colombia.

Updated: October 21, 2021, 11:25 AM