OECD unemployment rate fell to 6.5% in March

Despite positive economic outlook, jobless rate remains 1.2% above pre-pandemic level

May Day protesters demand more job protections amid the pandemic in Marseille, southern France. The jobless rate fell slightly across the eurozone in March to 8.1%. AP
May Day protesters demand more job protections amid the pandemic in Marseille, southern France. The jobless rate fell slightly across the eurozone in March to 8.1%. AP

The unemployment rate in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries declined to 6.5 per cent in March from 6.6 per cent in February, as the global economic outlook improved amid the vaccination drive.

Overall, 42.65 million people remained unemployed in the OECD, which includes countries in the eurozone as well as the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, the UK, Mexico and Canada, among others.

The jobless rate remained 1.2 per cent above the rate recorded in February last year, before the pandemic affected the labour market.

“In March, a marginal decline of the unemployment rate was also observed in the euro area – to 8.1 per cent, from 8.2 per cent in February 2021 – where the largest falls were registered in Finland to 7.7 per cent, Lithuania to 8.9 per cent, Portugal to 6.5 per cent and Spain to 15.3 per cent,” the OECD said.

In April, the International Monetary Fund raised its global economic forecast for the second time this year, thanks to faster-than-expected Covid-19 vaccination programmes and fiscal and monetary support provided by governments and central banks.

The global economy is now set to grow by 6 per cent this year, compared with a previous forecast of 5.5 per cent, the Washington-based lender said in its latest World Economic Outlook. However, it warned policymakers about an uneven recovery as richer countries rebound faster from the crisis.

The more positive outlook comes after the start of the coronavirus pandemic disrupted global trade and pummelled air travel across the world.

The unemployment rate also fell in most countries outside Europe in March, dropping to 7.5 per cent in Canada, 12.8 per cent in Colombia, 2.6 per cent in Japan, 5.6 per cent in Australia and 6 per cent in the US.

However, the jobless rose to 5.4 per cent in Israel, despite its rapid vaccination roll-out, and more recent data indicates that unemployment is also set to rise in April in Canada and the US, increasing to 8.1 per cent and 6.1 per cent respectively.

The OECD’s youth unemployment rate also decreased further in March, falling to 13.3 per cent for 15 to 24 year olds from 13.6 per cent in February. However, that is still 2 per cent above the pre-pandemic level recorded in February last year.

More on employment

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Taxes on employee salaries in OECD-member countries hit a 12-year low

Published: May 10, 2021 02:19 PM

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