Marquette Warrior: Unemployment: U.S. vs. Europe

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Unemployment: U.S. vs. Europe

People on the left are always touting European socialism as something the U.S. should emulate. They like to talk about all the goodies socialist governments give out (but don’t like to talk about the tax burden).

But another thing they don’t like to talk about is unemployment. It is chronically lower in the U.S.

Current unemployment rates among industrialized countries can be found here, courtesy of the OECD.

Notice something? The U.S. is lower than all countries besides Germany, the Czech Republic, Iceland and the Netherlands.  The numbers vary a bit year by year, and quarter by quarter, so they might be a bit different if you check the link six months or three years from now.

Of course, comparing a large diverse country like the U.S. to much smaller and homogeneous countries is unfair. It’s like comparing the city of Milwaukee to Whitefish Bay. On about any indicator you can think of, Whitefish Bay looks better, being homogeneous and affluent.

This logic would suggest that the U.S. should be compared to all the countries in the European Union, or at least to all the countries that use the Euro as their currency. That would deprive supporters of European socialism of the opportunity to pick their favorite little homogeneous country to compare to the U.S.

But in spite of this, all their favorite little homogeneous countries fare worse than the U.S. Unemployment, which is 3.8 percent in the U.S., is 6.44% in that paragon of socialist righteousness, Sweden. And it’s 4.87% in Bernie Sander’s dream country, Denmark.


Even the low number for Germany (which has a highly touted “industrial policy”) conceals a less benign reality.

We see that when we look at long-term unemployment. This is defined as the percentage of those who are unemployed who have been unemployed for twelve months or more.

The data on that are here, and they show that 41.9% of the unemployed in Germany have been out of work for a year or more, while only 15.1% of the unemployed in the U.S. are in this category. The number for the Czech Republic is 36%.

For Iceland the number is a low 9.2%, but for the Netherlands it is 40.7%.

The love of the American left for European socialism is not based on a superior ability of that system to give people jobs. It’s based on the perception that people like them are in power, unlike in the U.S.

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