Paul Krugman on jobs in Europe and the U.S.

Paul Krugman writes:

Another jobs picture — Europe vs. US (updated)

While I’m on the employment thing, I thought it might be worth looking at an international comparison.


This chart shows the employment-population ratio for the United States (blue) and the EU-15 — the 15 earlier, rich members of the European Union (red). It’s annual data 1993 to 2006, so it doesn’t get the recent decline. The numbers, from the OECD, aren’t quite comparable with the BLS version of the ratio, because they’re based on population aged 15-64, not all adults.

What the chart shows is that European countries have lower employment compared with population than the US; that’s a mixture of higher unemployment, lower female participation, and earlier retirement. But since 2000 the US employment record has been weak, while Europe has done much better at creating jobs. As a result, the gap has narrowed substantially.

This gets at a theme I’ve written about in the past, and will surely return to: a lot of the American image of Europe as a moribund economy is, like, so 1990s. They’re doing better now — and we’re doing worse.

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A correspondent asks about how this looks if we just look at prime-working-age adults. Good question. Here’s the employment-population ratio for people aged 25-54, for the United States (blue), the EU-15 (red), and, just for good measure, France (green). Like I said, tales of moribund Europe are a bit out of date.

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