UK jobless rate at 17-year high - but how is rest of world doing?

Jan 18, 2012

More than 2.6 million people are unemployed - the highest level since 1994

UNEMPLOYMENT in the UK has soared to its highest level in 17 years, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics. In the three months to November, the jobless total rose by 118,000 to 2.685 million – the worst since the summer of 1994, according to The Independent.

The unemployment rate rose from 8.3 per cent to 8.4 per cent. Youth unemployment is particularly bad, with 1.04 million 16 to 24-year-olds out of work - the highest number since records began in 1992.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the level of unemployment is "a major concern for the Government". But how badly is Britain really doing? These unemployment figures from around the world put our own into context...

Percentage unemployed: 8.4%
Percentage of 16-17 year olds unemployed: 38.4%
Percentage of 18-24 year olds unemployed: 20.1%
(Office for National Statistics)

UK unemployment has risen to the highest rate in 17 years. Faisal Islam, economics editor at Channel 4, notes that on the two occasions when unemployment reached 8.4 per cent in the past, it continued to shoot up to ten or 12 per cent within one to two years.

Percentage unemployed: 8.5%
Percentage of 16-19 year olds unemployed: 23.1%
(Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Economists have predicted the US unemployment rate will remain above eight per cent when the presidential election is held in November - a level at which no incumbent president since Frank Delano Roosevelt has been re-elected.

Percentage unemployed: 9.7%
Percentage of 15-24 year olds unemployed: 21.6%
(National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies)

As the eurozone debt crisis pushes up unemployment, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called a "crisis social summit" and yesterday pledged to introduce a host of job-friendly labour law reforms.

Percentage unemployed: 5.5%
Percentage of under-25s unemployed: 8.1%

For the first time on record, about half of the German population have jobs, with the unemployment rate at its lowest since 1991. An increase in car sales, manufacture exports to China and technology starts-ups have helped make more jobs available for Germans.

Percentage unemployed:  21.52%
Percentage of 16-24 year olds unemployed: 18.51%.
(Spanish National Statistics Institute)

Unemployment in Spain is currently the highest recorded since the method of measurement was altered in 2001. Prior to this the ten-year high for unemployment stood just shy of 25 per cent.

Percentage unemployed: 5.3%
Percentage of 15-19 year olds unemployed: 16%
(Australian Bureau of Statistics/The Conversation)

Australian unemployment climbed unexpectedly last year, from 4.9 per cent in January, as companies moved to cut costs in reaction to the eurozone debt crisis.

Percentage unemployed: 7.5%
Percentage of 20-24 year olds unemployed: 21.2%
(CIA World Factbook/Federal State Statistics service)

Unemployment in Russia has fallen by 2 million over the last two years.

South Africa
Percentage unemployed: 25%
(The South African)

Unemployment in South Africa was expected to rise when the figures were released, but in fact fell by 0.7 per cent. The government has a target of 15 per cent to reach by 2020.

Sign up for our daily newsletter