Jobs and the Future of Work

3 charts that show the state of the job market in OECD countries

Unemployment is steadying in OECD countries that represent 80% of world trade.

Unemployment is steadying in OECD countries that represent 80% of world trade. Image: Unsplash/Campaign Creators

Victoria Masterson
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Jobs and the Future of Work?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Future of Work is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Future of Work

Listen to the article

  • Unemployment across the 38 member countries of the OECD stabilized at 5% in May 2022.
  • Two-thirds of OECD countries say unemployment is “below or equal to” pre-pandemic levels.
  • 90% of OECD countries reported an increase in employment.
  • The proportion of working age people in the workforce is at its highest level since the end of 2019.

Unemployment is steadying in countries representing 80% of world trade and investment, as these three charts below show.

The figures are published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a 38-country grouping that advises policymakers.

Unemployment is steadying across the OECD countries.
Unemployment is steadying across the OECD countries. Image: OECD

Unemployment is levelling off in OECD countries

The OECD’s members span Europe, the Americas and the Pacific and include Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Israel, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

This is the lowest level since 2001 when the data was first collected.

Pre-COVID unemployment rates return

Bar chart showing change in unemployment rate for OECD countries.
Joblessness in OECD countries looks like it’s starting to return to pre-pandemic levels. Image: OECD

In two-thirds of OECD countries, the jobless rate for May was “below or equal to” pre-pandemic levels, the report found. The number of unemployed workers in the OECD – 33.8 million – also stayed broadly stable.

Women saw a marginal rise in unemployment for the first time since December 2020. For men and workers aged 25 and above, unemployment was stable. Among younger workers aged 15 to 24, unemployment continued to fall.

In Europe, OECD member countries saw joblessness fall slightly, from 6.7% in April to 6.6% in May. Italy, Lithuania and Spain saw the biggest falls in unemployment, while Austria, Belgium and Portugal had the biggest rises.

In the United States, unemployment stayed at 3.6% for the fourth month in a row. In Canada, unemployment fell another 0.6 percentage points to 4.9%.

Employment is rising

90% of OECD countries saw an increase in employment.
90% of OECD countries saw an increase in employment. Image: OECD

When the war in Ukraine started, employment and the proportion of working-age people in the workforce were at their highest levels since these datasets began in 2005 and 2008 respectively, the OECD said.

In the first quarter of 2022, the share of working-age people with jobs, including employees and self-employed people, climbed to 69%, with 90% of OECD countries seeing an increase in employment.

The share of working-age people in the workforce over the same period hit 72.9%.

This is the first time since the last quarter of 2019 that participation in the labour force has reached this level.

The future world of work

The future of work, jobs and skills – including the growing need for digital skills and jobs related to health and care – was a key theme of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland in May 2022.

“To address the substantial challenges facing the labour market today, governments must pursue a holistic approach, creating active linkages and coordination between education providers, skills, workers and employers, and ensuring effective collaboration between employment agencies, regional governments and national governments,” concluded the Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020.


What is the World Economic Forum’s Jobs Reset Summit?

Have you read?
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

How the ‘NO, NO’ Matrix can help professionals plan for success

Eli Joseph

April 19, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum