The Wilder View

Unemployment Rates: U.S. Versus the Rest of the World

Today Gerald F. Seib wrote an interesting article at the WSJ, Obama Invites GOP to Share Burden of Fixing U.S. In it, he says the following:

Thus, Mr. Obama, after reeling off a veritable litany of proposals focused on how to create jobs (a word that appeared 29 times in the speech), came to the heart of the political matter: Democrats’ stunning loss of a Massachusetts U.S. Senate seat means he tackles this daunting agenda one vote short of the 60 needed to stop Republicans from mounting filibusters to stop his initiatives.

Wow, “jobs” was repeated 29 times during the 70 minutes that Pres. Obama was in the spotlight. Below I illustrate trends in unemployment rates across different parts of the world; and it’s obvious that the American working population is struggling relative to many other economies.

A comparative analysis of unemployment rates in Asia (where monthly data is available),



Latin America,




Emerging Europe,


And the G7.





The charts illustrates each country’s unemployment rate relative to its 2006 average organized by region; I present the data in this manner due to the structural disparities in unemployment rates across economies. Except for Emerging Europe, the scale of the Y-axis is the same across each region for comparability of labor distress. Latvia’s off the charts; it’s unemployment rate is almost 3.5 times its 2006 average.

Across all regions, labor markets weakened dramatically in 2009. Ostensibly, the labor recovery in Asia and Latin America is fully underway. Alternatively, the U.S. labor market has stabilized, but the unemployment rate is hovering about 2.2 times over its 2006 average. And there’s no coming down from here until economic growth sticks at a 3.5% pace, or so.

Originally published at News N Economics and reproduced here with the author’s permission.

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