June 11, 2012
In March 2012, among countries covered by the BLS international comparisons program, Italy (9.9 percent) and France (9.7 percent) had the highest unemployment rates. Concepts and definitions of unemployment in labor force surveys may differ from country to country, and BLS adjusts the estimates from some countries to make them more comparable with U.S. concepts and definitions.
From March 2011 to March 2012, among those countries covered in the BLS comparisons, Italy experienced the largest increase in its unemployment rate (+1.7 percentage points). The United States recorded the largest decrease (−0.7 percentage point).
In March 2012, among those countries in the European Union (EU) whose unemployment rates are not adjusted to U.S. concepts by BLS, Spain had the highest unemployment rate (24.1 percent).
Spain also recorded the largest increase (+3.3 percentage points) in its unemployment rate from March 2011 to March 2012. Finland (−0.4 percentage point) and Austria (−0.2 percentage point) experienced a decrease in their unemployment rates.
These data are from the International Labor Comparisons program. To learn more, see "International Unemployment rates and Employment Indexes, Seasonally Adjusted, 2008–2012" (HTML) (PDF) (XLS). For further information on comparability issues, see "International unemployment rates: how comparable are they?," by Constance Sorrentino, in the June 2000 issue of the Monthly Labor Review.