Unemployment by Country 2022

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The unemployment rate is defined as the percentage of unemployed workers in the total labor force. The unemployment rate includes workers who currently do not work, although they can do so. For 2021, the global unemployment rate is estimated to be between 6.3-6.5%, depending upon the source. The unemployment rate is a lagging indicator, meaning it responds (rises and falls) to changing economic conditions rather than influencing or predicting them. When the economy grows at a healthy rate, the job market is plentiful and the unemployment rate drops. When the economy is experiencing a recession or other turbulence, the job market tends to retract and the unemployment rate rises in response.

The challenge of comparing international unemployment rates

When evaluating the unemployment rates of countries in comparison with one another, it is vital to keep in mind that it is not always an apples-to-apples comparison. For starters, not every country has the same definition of unemployment—for instance, some countries say that if a person is able to work but not currently employed, that person is unemployed. But other countries only consider a person unemployed if they are actively seeking work. People who are not working and not looking for work are not considered unemployed. Obviously, these different definitions will have an impact on the unemployment rates posted by those countries.

To see this impact in action, examine the 2019 unemployment rate in South Africa, using data from the International Labour Organization. According to the ILOSTAT database, Unemployment is 29% when filtered using all three criteria (not employed, available, and looking), 38% when filtered by "not employed but available" with no measure of looking, and a full 40% when filtered by "not employed but looking" with no availability requirement.

Fortunately, most countries currently report their unemployment according to an established international standard, which makes it easier to ensure apples-to-apples data comparisons. But the possibility of a mismatch still exists and can be a helpful thing to keep in mind—especially if you encounter data that seem surprising. An additional concern is the timeliness of the data. Unemployment rates can change significantly from month to month, let alone year to year, so comparing one country's 2020 rate to another country's 2015 rate is likely to give an inaccurate impression. That said, if no new data have been released, older data are still better than no data at all.

Top Ten Countries with the Highest Unemployment (World Bank 2020 data):

  1. South Africa - 29.2%
  2. Kosovo (partially recognized) - 26.2%
  3. Djibouti - 26.1%
  4. West Bank& Gaza Strip (occupied Palestine) - 25.9%
  5. Equatorial Guinea - 25.0%
  6. Botswana - 24.9%
  7. Grenada - 22.9%
  8. Eswatini - 22.7%
  9. Lesotho - 22.4%
  10. Gabon - 20.4%

The impact of unemployment

Unemployment has many adverse effects, including: increased depression and other mental health problems, increased crime rates, overall lower economic productivity and consumption, lower rates of volunteerism, and erosion of skills. Surprisingly, exceptionally low unemployment can also create economic challenges, such as excessive inflation (when everyone is employed and has money to spend, demand for products can outstrip supply, which causes a rise in prices). This can lead to a rising cost of living, which can be particularly hard on citizens in developing and/or low-income countries.

In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses six different methods to calculate the unemployment rate. The most widely used and cited unemployment statistic is U-3, which defines unemployed people as willing and able to work and who have actively searched for work in the past four weeks. Those who would like to work but are unable, such as those with disabilities, are not considered unemployed. As defined by the U-3 statistic, the number of unemployed people is divided by the number of people in the labor force and multiplied by 100.

Top Ten Countries with the Lowest Unemployment (World Bank 2020 data):

  1. El Salvador - 0.1% (tie)
  2. Qatar - 0.1% (tie)
  3. Myanmar - .05%
  4. Solomon Islands - 0.7%
  5. Chad - 1.1% (tie)
  6. Thailand - 1.1% (tie)
  7. Bahrain - 1.2% (tie)
  8. Cambodia - 1.2% (tie)
  9. Malawi - 1.3%
  10. Palau - 1.4%

What unemployment numbers don't tell us

A low unemployment rate does not necessarily indicate that a country's people are living in favorable, sustainable conditions. A report released by the International Labor Organization found that many of the 3.3 billion people throughout the world who are technically employed are working under substandard conditions that offer too little pay, poor economic security, and little to no opportunity for advancement.

The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on unemployment

The International Labor Organization's World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2019 reported that the global unemployment rate dropped below 5% in 2018, the lowest since the 2008 financial crisis. That percentage did not last, however, thanks in no small part to the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. unemployment rate was 3.8% before the COVID-19 pandemic (February 2020). By May 2020, the unemployment rate may have risen as high as 16%. By September 2020, the unemployment rate decreased to 7.9%.

The three types of unemployment

There are three types of unemployment: frictional, structural, and seasonal. Frictional unemployment refers to temporary unemployment during the period when someone is searching for a job. Structural unemployment is the mismatch between workers' skills or locations and job requirements. Seasonal unemployment is caused by seasonal changes in a population's activity, such as tourism or agriculture.

Here are the 10 countries with the highest rates of unemployment:

  1. South Africa (29.20%)
  2. Djibouti (26.10%)
  3. Equatorial Guinea (25.00%)
  4. Botswana (24.90%)
  5. Grenada (22.90%)
  6. Eswatini (22.70%)
  7. Lesotho (22.40%)
  8. Gabon (20.40%)
  9. Namibia (19.90%)
  10. Curacao (19.10%)

Unemployment by Country 2022

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Unemployment by Country 2022

Country Rate - World Bank Year (WB) Rate - Int'l. Labour Org. Year (ILO) Rate - CIA Year (CIA)
South Africa29.20%202029.20%202028.53%2019
Djibouti26.10%201726.10%201740.00%2017
Equatorial Guinea25.00%1983--8.60%2014
Botswana24.90%202022.60%201920.00%2013
Grenada22.90%201522.90%201524.00%2017
Eswatini22.70%201622.70%201628.00%2014
Lesotho22.40%201922.40%201928.10%2014
Gabon20.40%2010--28.00%2015
Namibia19.90%201819.90%201834.00%2016
Curacao19.10%202013.40%201813.00%2013
Libya19.00%2012--30.00%2004
Saint Vincent And the Grenadines18.80%2008--18.80%2008
Panama18.60%20204.70%20196.14%2018
Georgia18.50%202018.50%202011.80%2016
Armenia18.30%201918.30%201918.90%2017
Montenegro17.90%202015.10%201915.82%2019
Costa Rica17.40%202017.40%20208.10%2017
Sudan17.40%2011--19.60%2017
North Macedonia17.20%202017.20%2020--
Zimbabwe16.90%201916.90%201911.30%2014
Jordan16.80%201916.80%201919.10%2019
Greece16.30%202016.30%202017.30%2019
Bosnia And Herzegovina15.90%202015.70%201933.28%2019
Spain15.50%202015.50%202014.13%2019
Saint Lucia15.30%201915.30%201920.00%2003
Rwanda15.30%201915.30%20192.70%2014
Tunisia15.10%201915.10%201915.50%2017
Colombia15.00%202015.00%202010.50%2019
New Caledonia14.60%201414.60%201414.70%2014
Samoa14.50%201714.50%20175.20%2017
Haiti14.10%2012--40.60%2010
Brazil13.70%202013.70%202011.93%2019
Sao Tome And Principe13.60%2012--12.20%2017
Algeria13.60%201713.60%201711.70%2017
Yemen13.50%201413.50%201427.00%2014
Nauru13.30%2013--23.00%2011
Turkey13.10%202013.10%202013.68%2019
Iraq13.00%201713.00%201716.00%2012
Zambia12.50%201912.00%201815.00%2008
South Sudan12.20%2008----
French Polynesia11.70%2007--21.80%2012
Albania11.70%202011.50%20195.83%2019
Afghanistan11.70%202011.20%201723.90%2017
Argentina11.50%20209.80%20199.84%2019
Nepal11.40%201711.40%20173.00%2017
Lebanon11.30%201911.40%20199.70%2007
Northern Mariana Islands11.20%2010--11.20%2010
Chile11.20%202011.20%20207.22%2019
Dominica11.00%2001--23.00%2000
Honduras11.00%20205.70%20195.60%2017
Uruguay10.50%202010.40%20207.60%2017
Mauritania10.30%201710.30%201710.20%2017
Gambia10.20%201810.20%2018--
Uganda10.10%20179.90%20179.40%2014
Bahamas10.00%201810.00%201810.10%2017
Republic of the Congo10.00%2012--36.00%2014
Iran9.70%202010.70%201911.80%2017
Angola9.60%20149.60%20146.60%2016
Canada9.50%20209.50%20205.67%2019
Ukraine9.50%20208.20%20198.89%2019
Laos9.40%20179.40%20170.70%2017
Morocco9.30%20169.30%20169.23%2019
American Samoa9.20%2010--29.80%2005
Italy9.20%20209.20%20209.88%2019
Greenland9.10%20159.10%20159.10%2015
Belize9.10%20196.60%20179.00%2017
Serbia9.00%20209.00%202014.10%2017
Uzbekistan9.00%20199.00%20195.00%2017
Bermuda8.90%20148.90%20147.00%2017
Aruba8.90%2011--7.70%2016
Micronesia8.90%20148.90%201416.20%2010
Kiribati8.60%20198.60%201930.60%2010
Syria8.60%2010--50.00%2017
Tuvalu8.50%20168.50%2016--
Lithuania8.50%20208.50%20208.40%2019
Nigeria8.50%20198.50%201816.50%2017
Antigua And Barbuda8.40%2001--11.00%2014
Barbados8.40%20198.40%201910.10%2017
Turks And Caicos Islands8.30%2008--10.00%1997
Puerto Rico8.30%20198.30%201910.80%2017
Sweden8.30%20208.30%20206.78%2019
Comoros8.10%20148.10%20146.50%2014
Latvia8.10%20208.10%20206.14%2019
United States8.10%20208.10%20203.89%2018
France8.00%20208.00%20208.12%2019
Vanuatu7.90%20197.90%20191.70%1999
Suriname7.90%20167.90%20168.90%2017
Bolivia7.90%20203.80%20194.00%2017
Finland7.80%20207.80%20206.63%2019
Niger7.80%20177.80%20170.30%2017
Egypt7.80%20197.80%20197.86%2019
Cyprus7.60%20207.60%20207.07%2019
Croatia7.50%20207.50%20208.07%2019
Paraguay7.50%20207.60%20205.70%2017
Peru7.40%20207.10%20206.58%2019
Saudi Arabia7.40%20206.00%20186.00%2017
Mongolia7.00%20207.00%20208.00%2017
Tajikistan6.90%20166.90%20162.40%2016
Luxembourg6.80%20206.80%20205.36%2019
Estonia6.80%20206.80%20204.94%2019
Portugal6.80%20206.80%20206.55%2019
Slovakia6.70%20206.70%20205.00%2019
Jamaica6.50%20207.70%20197.72%2019
Australia6.50%20206.50%20205.16%2019
Gibraltar6.40%1991--1.00%2016
Marshall Islands6.40%2019--36.00%2006
Monaco6.30%20166.30%20162.00%2012
Mauritius6.30%20196.30%20196.65%2019
Dominican Republic6.10%20206.40%20195.10%2017
Ecuador6.10%20206.10%20205.71%2019
San Marino5.80%20195.80%20198.10%2017
Hong Kong5.80%20202.90%20192.93%2019
Ireland5.60%20205.50%20204.98%2019
Denmark5.60%20205.60%20203.05%2019
Russia5.60%20204.50%20194.60%2019
Iceland5.50%20205.50%20203.62%2019
Belgium5.50%20205.60%20205.36%2019
Guam5.40%20165.40%20164.50%2017
Austria5.40%20205.40%20207.35%2019
Maldives5.30%20195.30%20192.90%2017
Nicaragua5.20%20185.20%20186.40%2017
China5.20%20195.20%20193.64%2019
Saint Kitts And Nevis5.10%2001--4.50%1997
Bulgaria5.10%20205.10%20205.66%2019
Slovenia5.00%20205.00%20207.64%2019
Guinea5.00%20195.00%20192.70%2017
Romania5.00%20205.00%20203.06%2019
Venezuela5.00%20175.10%20176.90%2018
Kenya5.00%20195.00%201940.00%2013
Kazakhstan4.90%20204.80%20194.80%2019
Switzerland4.80%20204.80%20202.31%2019
Azerbaijan4.80%20194.90%20195.00%2017
Timor Leste4.70%20164.70%20164.40%2014
Burkina Faso4.70%20184.70%201877.00%2004
India4.70%20205.30%20198.50%2017
New Zealand4.60%20204.60%20204.13%2019
Kyrgyzstan4.50%20184.50%20183.18%2019
Malaysia4.50%20203.30%20193.30%2019
DR Congo4.50%2012----
Mexico4.50%20204.50%20203.49%2019
Norway4.40%20204.40%20203.72%2019
Bangladesh4.40%20174.40%20174.40%2017
Seychelles4.30%20203.00%20193.00%2017
Malta4.30%20204.30%20200.78%2019
Fiji4.30%20164.30%20164.50%2017
Israel4.30%20203.80%20194.40%2020
Hungary4.30%20204.30%20203.45%2019
Sri Lanka4.30%20184.80%20194.83%2019
Indonesia4.30%20204.30%20205.31%2018
Cayman Islands4.20%20154.20%20154.00%2008
Ghana4.20%20174.20%201711.90%2015
Singapore4.10%20203.10%20192.25%2019
Belarus4.10%20204.20%20190.80%2017
Pakistan4.10%20184.10%20186.00%2017
Turkmenistan4.00%2010--11.00%2014
South Korea3.90%2020--3.76%2019
Moldova3.80%20203.80%20204.99%2019
Netherlands3.80%20203.80%20203.41%2019
Germany3.80%20203.80%20204.98%2019
Faroe Islands3.70%2004--2.20%2017
Togo3.70%20173.70%20176.90%2016
United Kingdom3.70%20193.70%20193.17%2019
Cameroon3.50%20143.50%20144.30%2014
Mozambique3.40%20153.40%201524.50%2017
British Virgin Islands3.30%1991--2.90%2015
Ivory Coast3.30%20173.30%20179.40%2013
Guyana3.20%201814.00%201811.10%2013
Trinidad And Tobago3.20%20163.20%20164.90%2017
Sierra Leone3.20%20184.70%201415.00%2017
Poland3.20%20203.20%20205.43%2019
Tonga3.10%20183.10%20181.10%2011
Liberia3.10%20163.10%20162.80%2014
Oman2.90%20201.80%2018--
Senegal2.90%20193.60%201748.00%2007
Japan2.80%20202.80%20202.36%2019
Isle of Man2.70%20162.70%20161.10%2017
Macau2.60%20201.80%20192.00%2017
Papua New Guinea2.60%2011--2.50%2017
Bhutan2.50%20152.50%20153.20%2017
Czech Republic2.50%20202.60%20202.80%2019
Philippines2.50%20202.20%20195.11%2019
Vietnam2.40%20202.40%20203.11%2018
Ethiopia2.30%2013--17.50%2012
Kuwait2.20%20162.20%20161.10%2017
United Arab Emirates2.20%20192.20%20191.60%2016
Guatemala2.20%20192.20%20192.30%2017
Tanzania2.10%20142.10%201410.30%2014
Liechtenstein2.00%2007--2.40%2015
Madagascar1.80%20151.80%20151.80%2017
Cuba1.70%20181.70%20182.60%2017
Mali1.60%20181.60%20187.90%2017
Benin1.50%2018--1.00%2014
Palau1.40%20141.40%20141.70%2015
Malawi1.30%20205.80%201720.40%2013
Bahrain1.20%2012--3.60%2017
Cambodia1.20%20190.10%20170.30%2017
Chad1.10%20181.10%2018--
Thailand1.10%20200.70%20190.99%2019
Solomon Islands0.70%2013----
Myanmar0.50%20190.50%20194.00%2017
Qatar0.10%20200.10%20198.90%2017
El Salvador0.10%20204.20%20197.00%2017
Tokelau-------2.00%2015
Niue----12.00%2001
Falkland Islands--1.00%20161.00%2016
Montserrat----5.60%2017
Saint Pierre And Miquelon----8.70%2015
Wallis And Futuna----8.80%2013
Anguilla----8.00%2002
Cook Islands--1.30%201913.10%2005
Sint Maarten----12.00%2012
Andorra----3.70%2016
French Guiana--23.20%2016--
Guadeloupe--23.80%2016--
Eritrea----5.80%2017
Central African Republic----6.90%2017
Somalia------
Taiwan--3.70%20193.73%2019
North Korea----25.60%2013

Unemployment by Country 2022

Sources