The Rich World is Enjoying an Unprecedented Jobs Boom

The Economist (subscription required )reports that:  In America the unemployment rate is only 3.6%, the lowest in half a century. Less appreciated is the abundance of jobs across most of the rich world. Two-thirds of the members of the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries, enjoy record-high employment among 15- to 64-year-olds. In Japan 77% of this group has a job, up six percentage points in six years. This year Britons will work a record 55bn hours, on current trends. Germany is enjoying a bonanza of tax revenue following a surge in the size of its labour force. Even in France, Spain and Italy, where joblessness is still relatively high, working-age employment is close to or exceeds 2005 levels.”

The magazine argues that “As firms compete for workers rather than workers for jobs, average wage growth is rising, pushing up workers’ share of the pie—albeit not as fast as the extent of the boom might have suggested. Tight labour markets lead firms to fish for employees in neglected pools, including among ex-convicts, and to boost training amid skills shortages. American wonks fretted for years about how to shrink disability-benefit rolls. Now the hot labour market is doing it for them. Indeed, one attraction of the jobs boom is its potential to help solve social ills without governments having to do or spend very much.”

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