Country labor markets

Articles in this subject area summarize the current state of specific labor markets. They cover the labor market issues common to all countries but also highlight important developments specific to each country context.

  • The labor market in New Zealand, 2000−2021 Updated

    Employment has grown steadily, unemployment is low, and the gender gap and skill premiums have fallen

    David C. Maré, August 2022
    New Zealand is a small open economy, with large international labor flows and skilled immigrants. After the global financial crisis (GFC) employment took four years to recover, while unemployment took more than a decade to return to pre-crisis levels. Māori, Pasifika, and young workers were worst affected. The Covid-19 pandemic saw employment decline and unemployment rise but this was reversed within a few quarters. However, the long-term impact of the pandemic remains uncertain.
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  • The transformations of the French labor market, 2000–2021 Updated

    The transformations of the French labor market, 2000–2021

    Philippe Askenazy, February 2022
    France has the second largest population of countries in the EU. Since 2000, the French labor market has undergone substantial changes resulting from striking trends, some of which were catalyzed by the Great Recession and the Covid-19 crisis. The most interesting of these changes have been the massive improvement in the education of the labor force (especially of women), the resilience of employment during recessions, and the dramatic emergence of very-short-term employment contracts (less than a week) and low-income independent contractors, which together have fueled earnings inequality.
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  • The Danish labor market, 2000–2020 Updated

    Flexicurity has proven resilient to large shocks, but low skills and employment rates are challenges, especially among youths

    Torben M. Andersen, November 2021
    Denmark is often termed a “flexicurity” country with lax employment protection legislation, generous unemployment insurance, and active labor market policies. This model is not a safeguard against business cycles, but has coped with the Great Recession and the Covid-19 pandemic, avoiding large increases in long-term and structural unemployment. The pandemic has had severe effects due to restrictions and lockdowns, but the recovery and re-openings in late 2020 and spring 2021 have been strong, indicating that the labor market effects are mainly temporary. Recent reforms have boosted labor supply and employment. Real wage growth has been positive and responded—with some lag—to the developments in unemployment.
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  • The labor market in the US, 2000–2020 Updated

    Covid-19 ended the longest US economic expansion, pushing unemployment to its highest level with a slow and incomplete recovery

    Daniel S. Hamermesh, October 2021
    As the largest economy in the world, the US labor market is crucial to the economic well-being of citizens worldwide as well as, of course, that of its own citizens. Since 2000 the US labor market has undergone substantial changes, reflecting the Great Recession and the Covid Recession, but also resulting from some striking trends. Most interesting have been a remarkable drop in the labor force participation rate, reversing a nearly 50-year trend; the full recovery of unemployment after 2010 and its skyrocketing in 2020; and the little-known continuing growth in post-inflation average earnings.
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  • The labor market in Norway, 2000–2018 Updated

    Negative consequences of falling oil prices were offset by real wage flexibility, reduced immigration, and labor reallocation

    Øivind A. Nilsen, June 2020
    Norway has a rather high labor force participation rate and a very low unemployment rate. Part of the reason for this fortunate situation is the so-called “tripartism”: a broad agreement among unions, employers, and government to maintain a high level of coordination in wage bargaining. This has led to downward real wage flexibility, which has lessened the effects of negative shocks to the economy. Reduced net immigration, especially from neighboring countries, also mitigated the negative effects of the oil price drop in 2014. A potential drawback of tripartism is the difficulty of reducing employee absences and disability.
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  • The labor market in Switzerland, 2000–2018 Updated

    The Swiss labor market has proven resilient to several recent shocks, with unemployment remaining stable and real wages steadily increasing

    Switzerland is a small country with rich cultural and geographic diversity. The Swiss unemployment rate is low, at around 4%. The rate has remained at that level since the year 2000, despite a massive increase in the foreign labor force, the Great Recession, and a currency appreciation shock, demonstrating the Swiss labor market's impressive resiliency. However, challenges do exist, particularly related to earnings and employment gaps between foreign and native workers, as well as a narrowing but persistent gender pay gap. Additionally, regional differences in unemployment are significant.
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  • The labor market in South Africa, 2000–2017

    The legacy of apartheid and demand for skills have resulted in high, persistent inequality and high unemployment

    The South African economy was on a positive growth trajectory from 2003 to 2008 but, like other economies around the world, it was not spared from the effects of the 2008 global financial crisis. The economy has not recovered and employment in South Africa has not yet returned to its pre-crisis levels. Overall inequality has not declined, and median wages seem to have stagnated in the post-apartheid period. Labor force participation has been stable and although progress has been made, gender imbalances persist.
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  • The labor market in Iceland, 2000–2018

    A flexible labor market that was put to the test in the Great Recession

    Katrín Ólafsdóttir, April 2020
    The Icelandic labor market is characterized by high union density and the Icelanders’ willingness to work, as labor force participation is high, the work week long, and people retire late. The resilience and flexibility of the Icelandic labor market was put to the test in the Great Recession as a large share of employees in the labor market experienced a fall in work hours and a fall in nominal wages, while unemployment rose less than expected. In recent years there has been a strong influx of foreign workers, mostly from Eastern Europe. Studies have shown that their labor force participation is no lower than that of Icelanders.
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  • The labor market in Finland, 2000–2018 Updated

    The economy has finally started to recover from an almost decade-long economic stagnation

    Finland's population is aging rapidly by international comparison. The shrinking working-age population means that the burden of increasing pension and health care expenditures is placed on a smaller group of employed workers, while the scope for economic growth through increased labor input diminishes. Fiscal sustainability of the welfare state calls for a high employment rate among people of working age. Recent increases in employment contribute favorably to public finances, but high overall unemployment and a large share of the long-term unemployed are serious concerns.
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  • The labor market in Spain, 2002–2018 Updated

    Youth and long-term unemployment, which skyrocketed during the Great Recession, were still very high in 2018

    Spain, the fourth largest eurozone economy, was hit particularly hard by the Great Recession, which made its chronic labor market problems more evident. Youth and long-term unemployment escalated during the crisis and, despite the ongoing recovery, in 2018 were still at very high levels. The aggregate rate of temporary employment declined during the recession, but grew among youth. Most interesting have been the narrowing of the gender gap in labor force participation, the decline in the share of immigrants in employment and the labor force, and the overall increase in wage inequality.
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