America vs the World: Unemployment Around the Globe
We take a look at how our jobless rate compares to those of foreign countries.
Our country isn’t out of the woods yet in terms of job creation. Unemployment has been falling lately (to 8.2% of the workforce, as of the most recent figures), but it’s still not as comfortably low as it was in the days before the Great Recession of several years ago.
So how do we measure on the international scale? Actually, we’re doing comparatively well, although there are certain countries that trump us in terms of job retention and creation.
Some countries have been struggling badly of late. According to the European Union’s statistical body Eurostat, the troubled economy of Greece continues shedding jobs at an alarming rate. When last measured at the end of 2011, unemployment there stood at an immense 21%, down significantly from the 17% recorded only six months prior. An unsustainable government debt level and plunging economy are largely to blame for the country’s job woes. Even worse is Spain, a country beset by many of the same problems afflicting Greece. Spanish unemployment is even higher, at 23.6% - nearly three times the level of the current US rate.
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But joblessness varies significantly from country to country in the “Old Continent."
The EU’s top economy, Germany, is also a good place to find and keep a job, as its rate is 5.7% (measured at the end of February). This level has dropped slightly or stayed consistent over the past year. Other low-joblessness European countries include Belgium (7.2%), Czech Republic (6.8%) and the Netherlands (4.9%). The lowest number of all EU nations is Austria, with only 4.2%. Taken together, the 27 countries that comprise the EU recorded a collective rate of 10.2% in February; by contrast we’re doing better with our 8.2%.
The American level, however, is trumped in other parts of the world. Pan-Pacific economies are doing comparatively better than ours, and this is reflected in the job situation. Unemployment in Japan, for example, stood at 4.2% in February, despite a sluggish economy that is atypical for the region. Like America, Japan has generally seen a drop in its jobless rate since last summer, although it was notably lower in the pre-recession days.
Australia is another standout jobs performer in the Pacific Rim. Its unemployment pattern has largely followed that of Japan’s, albeit at a higher level (5.2% according to February figures).
Closer to home, our northern neighbor Canada is generally a better place for jobs. The country benefits from a much smaller population relative to America, while having our big economy as its main trading partner. It’s not surprising, then, that its unemployment level is considerably lower than ours – 6.3%, when last measured.
As for the future, the global economy seems to be improving gradually, so more likely than not some of those rates will come down. We can only hope the same for America.