Employment situation, OECD, first quarter 2021


Changes to the European Union Labour Force Survey (EU LFS) from 2021 onwards result in time series breaks between the 4th quarter of 2020 and the 1st quarter of 2021 for EU countries. More details on the main methodological changes to the EU LFS can be found here.


OECD area employment rate rose to 66.8% in the first quarter of 2021, but wide disparities across countries are visible 


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26 July 2021 - The OECD area employment rate – the share of the working-age population with jobs – rose to 66.8% in the first quarter of 2021, from 66.7% in the previous quarter. Some care is needed in interpreting the latest developments in the OECD employment rate, as methodological changes to the EU Labour Force Survey blur the comparison between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 for EU countries. In addition, a large part of the increase in the third and, to a lesser extent, fourth quarter of 2020 reflects the return to work of furloughed workers in Canada and the United States, where they are recorded as unemployed, whereas in most other countries, they are recorded as employed.

In the euro area, the employment rate stood at 66.9% in the first quarter of 2021, as compared to 68.4% in the United States and 77.6% in Japan. A large disparity is also observed within the area, with the employment rate ranging from a maximum of 79.3% in the Netherlands to a minimum of 53.9% in Greece

Persons employed and persons unemployed on temporary lay-off in the United States

Break in time series for the euro area between Q4 2020 and Q1 2021 resulting from changes in the EU Labour Force Survey. This break also affects, to some extent, aggregates for the OECD-Total.

Link to underlying data  - Source: Quarterly Labour Market Statistics, OECD

(1) The chart provides a more comparable view of movements in US employment statistics with movements in most other OECD countries, where furloughed workers are included in official employment statistics. It should however not be interpreted as alternative official statistics for the United States. In this chart, the number of employed covers age group from 16 to 64, while the number of unemployed on temporary lay-off covers age group 16 and over.

(2) US Current Population Survey data





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