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Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.2% in February 2022, OECD

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The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in April 2022 published its February 2022 unemployment figures: unemployment rate in the OECD area dropped below the pre-pandemic rate to 5.2%, down from 5.3% in January. This is the lowest level since the start of this data series in 2001.

The number of unemployed workers in the OECD area also continued to fall, reaching 34.9 million, 0.7 million below its pre-pandemic level.

The February decline in the OECD area unemployment rate was shared across both women and men as well as between younger workers aged 15 to 24 and workers aged twenty-five and above.

From a geographical perspective:

  • In the euro area, the unemployment rate fell further to 6.8% in February (from 6.9% in January). The youth unemployment rate in the euro area fell also to 14.0% from 14.3% in January, continuing its downward trend.
  • The unemployment rate fell markedly in Canada, Korea, Sweden, and Turkey, and more modestly in Australia, the United States and Japan.
  • By contrast, it increased in Colombia, Czech Republic, and Mexico. More recent data show that in March 2022 the unemployment rate further declined, by 0.2 percentage point, in the United States (to 3.6%) and Canada (to 5.3%, its lowest level since comparable data became available in 1976).

As a comment, we are witnessing, on the one hand, a very marked upsurge in inflation, a fact of which public opinion is acutely aware of, and on the other hand, a decline in the available workforce to levels not seen for 20 years, or even over 45 years in the case of Canada.
This double phenomenon is fueling wage demands, without employers being able to resist them in any tangible way. Indeed, when it comes to skills, the pre-existing imbalances between supply and demand are not about to be resolved, quite the contrary, given the lack of sufficient investment in education and the impossibility of resorting to immigration to meet increasingly sophisticated requirements.
What are the options for human resources departments? While improving fixed and variable compensation, it will also be necessary to upgrade all types of benefits, as well as workplace practices such as flexibility, concern for corporate social responsibility, anti-discrimination and anti-abuse measures, the list goes on. Only an integrated approach can meet today’s challenge – a challenge that has not been around for at least one or two generations and is therefore a threatening new development for today’s managers.

The OECD’s press release with more detailed information is available here as a PDF.

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