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August 1985, Vol. 108, No. 8
Recent trends in unemployment
and the labor force, 10 countries
The United States recovered from the 1981-82 recession earlier than most other major industrial nations. In response to strong output growth in 1983, U.S. employment growth resumed and unemployment fell throughout the year. These trends continued through the first half of 1984, with employment growth accelerating and unemployment dropping sharply. Since then, the civilian unemployment rate has remained virtually flat at around 7.3 percent, while employment has increased sufficiently to absorb increases in the labor force. In Canada, output also began recovering in early 1983 and the jobless rate fell steadily during the year, but not so quickly as in the United States. Canadian unemployment also stabilized at a record high level in 1984, but Canada's employment recovery was weaker than that of the United States. The North American recovery was followed by a more modest recovery in Japan. Japan's employment growth was the strongest since 1973, although the unemployment rate remained at a historic peak. In Western Europe, where the recovery has lagged behind North America's and Japan's, unemployment continued to rise and employment continued to fall during 1983. In 1984, French, German, British, and Italian unemployment rates increased further while Swedish rates stabilized. Employment began to inch upward in some of the European countriesmost notably in Great Britain.
At the end of 1984, unemployment rates were at double-digit levels in the Netherlands, Great Britain, Canada, and France. Japan and Sweden continued to have the lowest jobless rates, and the U.S. rate was in the middle of the international spectrum. (See table 1.)
This excerpt is from an article published in the August 1985 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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