Job Markets Improving Across Advanced Economies

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Australia, Italy, and Germany Lead a Month of Robust Recovery

Following the devastation of the Great Recession, job markets around the world are finally showing signs of life. Job markets are improving in a number of advanced economies, according to a new report, according to unemployment rates and employment growth data compiled and standardized by The Conference Board International Labor Comparisons (ILC) program for March 2014.

online ad decline, labor demand weakDuring March 2014 the unemployment rate in fell in three of the nine countries compared, was unchanged in five, and rose in just one — Japan.

Australia saw the largest decline, falling 0.3 points to 5.8%.

Germany and Italy both experienced 0.1-point declines, to 5.1% and 12.8%, respectively. Italy’s unemployment rate remains the highest among countries compared. At 10.1%, France’s unemployment remains near the record highs of the mid-1990s.

“In March, labor markets in the U.S., Canada, and Europe improved as steady or falling unemployment rates were coupled with gains in employment,” said Elizabeth Crofoot, senior economist with the International Labor Comparisons program at The Conference Board.

“Although Japan saw joblessness edge upward in March, the country’s unemployment rate remains the lowest (3.2%) of the economies compared. As employment nears pre-recession levels, labor market recovery in Japan is likely to continue in the coming months.”

Employment in March rose in all economies compared except the Netherlands.

Gains were sharpest in the United States, Italy, and Sweden. The employment index improved 0.3 points over February in each of those nations.

At 99.8, the U.S. is closer to the employment level of 2007 (=100) than any time since the Great Recession, according to the report. Japan has also inched closer to pre-recession levels, rising 0.2 points in March to 99.5.

Italy continues to have the lowest employment index (96.8), while Australia retains the highest (112.5), followed by Germany (108.5) and Canada (107.5).

Governments vary in the methods and definitions used to calculate labor force statistics. To facilitate comparison across countries, The Conference Board adjusts unemployment rates and employment indexes to match U.S. concepts.

A monthly report compiles adjusted data for ten countries, alongside unadjusted unemployment rates from ten additional economies in Europe. All data is seasonally adjusted; employment indexes are benchmarked to January 2007 (= 100).

The data is published as part of The Conference Board International Labor Comparisons program. Formerly a division of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ILC is dedicated to producing economic indicators that optimize research, comparison, and planning in a global context.

For more information about The Conference Board ILC program: www.conference-board.org/ilcprogram.

For the associated report, tables, and technical notes, see: www.conference-board.org/ilcprogram/laborforcemonthly

Source: The Conference Board

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