Over the last 7 years, the unemployment rates for the United States and most other countries remained below 10 percent, even during the downturn of the 2009 global recession. However, rates in Spain and South Africa were higher than 15 percent during the period.
The working age population is the noninstitutional population generally 16 years and over, or the potential population available to work. For more information on working age population, see the technical notes.
The United States working age population was more than twice as large as the next largest country compared (Japan). Between 2006 and 2012, the working age population in the United States grew faster than in Japan and in all European countries compared, but grew more slowly than in the remaining countries.
Table 7. Working age population, in thousands, 1970-2012
Korea, Republic of
NA Not available
(b) indicates a break in series; see country notes for break year and more information.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, International Labor Comparisons
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This report presents selected labor force statistics adjusted to U.S. concepts for 1970 onward for the United States and fifteen foreign countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. For more information see technical notes or country notes.
In the United States, unemployment includes all persons who, during the reference week:
• Had no employment,
• Were available for work, except for temporary illness, and
• Had actively sought work during the 4-week period ending with the reference week.
Active job search methods are those that have the potential to result in a job offer without further action on the part of the jobseeker. For example, sending a resume to an employer would be considered active, whereas simply reading newspaper advertisements would not.
Persons who were waiting to start a new job must have fulfilled these criteria to be considered unemployed. However, persons who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not have been looking for work.
The unemployment rate represents the percentage of persons in the labor force who are unemployed.
According to U.S. definitions, employment includes all persons who, during the reference week:
• Worked at least 1 hour as paid employees, worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm, or worked at least 15 hours as unpaid workers in a family-operated enterprise, and
• All those who did not work but had jobs or businesses from which they were temporarily absent due to vacation, illness, bad weather, childcare problems, maternity or paternity leave, labor- management dispute, job training, or other family or personal reasons, regardless of whether they were paid for the time off or were seeking other jobs.
Each employed person is counted only once, even if he or she holds more than one job. For purposes of industry classification, multiple jobholders are counted in the job at which they worked the greatest number of hours during the reference week.
Persons whose only activity consisted of work around their own house (painting, repairing, or own home housework) or volunteer work for religious, charitable, and other organizations are excluded.
EMPLOYMENT BY SECTOR
Employment levels and distributions are shown for four broad economic sectors: agriculture, industry, manufacturing (a sub-sector of industry), and services.
Sectoral employment data are based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) for the United States for 2000 onward, Canada for 1976 onward, and Mexico for 2005 onward. Data for Japan are based on the Japanese Standard Industrial Classification System (JSIC). For all other countries covered, sectoral employment data are based on the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC). Effects of the change in classification system are discussed in the country notes.
The labor force is comprised of persons who are in employment and unemployment. All members of the working-age population are eligible for inclusion in the labor force, and those 16 and over (in the United States; age limits vary by country) who have a job or are actively looking for one are so classified. All others—those who have no job and are not looking for one—are counted as "not in the labor force."
The labor force participation rate represents the proportion of the working-age population that is in the labor force. Conversely, the inactivity rate represents the proportion of the working-age population that is not in the labor force. All persons in the civilian non-institutional working-age population who are neither employed nor unemployed are considered not in the labor force. Many who do not participate in the labor force are going to school or are retired. Family responsibilities keep others out of the labor force. Still others have a physical or mental disability which prevents them from participating in labor force activities.
The labor market statistics provided in this report describe the working-age population. In the United States, the working-age population is more specifically known as the civilian non- institutional working-age population:
• "Civilian" refers to persons who are not on active duty in the military;Had no employment,
• "Non-institutional" refers to persons who are not in institutions, such as prison inmates or those in a mental institution; and
• "Working-age" refers to persons 16 years of age and older.
Last Modified Date: June 7, 2013