European unemployment: almost the same as the US

Ok, this is interesting.

The latest round of OECD employment data shows (PDF) that Europe has almost entirely closed the employment gap with the United States: The difference is now 1.1 percent, attributable entirely to low female workforce participation among women in Italy and Spain. Indeed, if you factor out the disadvantage conferred by our massive incarceration rate, they may well be ahead. Notice here that we’re talking about employment rates: The United States often has lower unemployment rates for the simple reason that we cease counting people when we consider them no longer looking. But if you look at the more telling side of the coin – the actual percentage of the population employed in gainful labor – we’re basically tied. And yet they all have health care

Apparently it’s been improving throughout the 2000s. Wonder why.

When they say the percentage of population that is employed, do they mean the adult, working-age population? It seems as though differences in the number of kids/seniors could affect the overall population participation.

The paper is very specific. It counts working age, and indeed the 1.1% is for the prime working age of 25-54.Incarcerated people aren’t counted either.

Typically in unemployment calculations, only people who don’t have a job but are actively looking for one are counted. Children, retirees, and “discouraged workers” (people of working age but have given up looking for work) are excluded.