Unemployment in OECD drops to 5.4% as recovery takes hold

Jobless numbers across industrialised bloc declines for the eighth consecutive month

Unemployment across the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) area fell to 5.4 per cent in December, the eighth consecutive monthly fall.

The latest jobless data from the OECD corresponded to 36.1 million unemployed workers across its 38 member states, including the Republic.

While in decline, it was still 500,000 above the pre-pandemic level, the OECD said, though it noted that the unemployment rate was below the pre-pandemic level in Australia, Chile, France, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain and Turkey, a reflection of the strong recovery under way in those countries.

However, the organisation cautioned that the headline rate concealed certain changes within the labour market, including participation levels.


“It should be noted that the unemployment rate conceals the extent of the unmet labour demand as some non-employed people may be ‘out of the labour force’, and hence not captured by the unemployment rate, either because they are not actively looking for a job or are not available to work,” it said.


The Covid-adjusted unemployment rate in the Republic rose to 7.8 per cent last month on foot of restrictions to curb the spread of the Omicron variant. It had been falling for much of last year.

The standard measure of unemployment, which does not include Pandemic Unemployment Payment recipients, was put at 5.3 per cent, up from 5.2 per cent the previous month.

Unemployment here is expected to resume falling again with the lifting of restrictions later in January. The Irish Central Bank is predicting unemployment will fall to 5.3 per cent next year and to 4.9 per cent in 2024, a level that is consistent with full employment in the Irish economy.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times