Visualizing the World's Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies
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Visualizing the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies

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Bubble map of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world

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Who are the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies?

Some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies have played a central role in the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, it’s likely no surprise that the pandemic has also been great for many healthcare businesses. In fact, in 2020 alone, the world’s 50 largest pharmaceutical companies still combined for a whopping $851 billion in revenues.

In this graphic, using data from Companies Market Cap, we list the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world by market capitalization. It’s worth noting this list also includes healthcare companies that work closely with pharmaceuticals, including biotech, pharmaceutical retailers, clinical laboratories, etc.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this graphic was missing some key companies such as GSK and AbbVie. They were unfortunately not included in the original source and we are now working to make sure there were no other smaller omissions. Thanks to all that sent in corrections.

The Pharmaceutical Leaders

To start, here are the top five biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world at the moment by market capitalization:

1. Johnson & Johnson

The pharmaceutical and consumer goods giant is worth $428.7 billion in market cap. They developed the third vaccine authorized for use in the U.S. and were named among the TIME100 Most Influential Companies List in 2021.

2. Roche

The Swiss pharmaceutical giant is at the forefront of oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology, and neuroscience. In 2019, Roche’s pharma segment sales rose by a healthy 16% to $53 billion.

3. Pfizer

Despite being the leading COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer in North America, Pfizer slid in the rankings to third place. The company has recently gained momentum, especially in the past quarter, with Q2’2021 revenues of $19.0 billion, reflecting a 86% operational growth from 2020.

4. Eli Lilly

Eli Lilly has taken a significant step towards establishing itself as a pharmaceutical industry leader. Having a market cap value of $125 billion in 2019, Eli Lilly has jumped to a current value of $214.9 billion, a significant growth of 72%.

5. Novartis

The second-biggest pharmaceutical company out of Switzerland, Novartis has been the face of the pharma industry for about 25 years. The primary manufacturer for the most recognizable drugs on the market pulled in a revenue of over $48 billion in 2020, a 3% increase compared to 2019.

Here’s how all the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world stack up against each other:

Company Rank Company NameMarket Cap ValueCountry
1Johnson & Johnson
JNJ
$428.66 B🇺🇸 USA
2Roche
RHHBY
$320.41 B🇨🇭 Switzerland
3Pfizer
PFE
$219.39 B🇺🇸 USA
4Eli Lilly
LLY
$208.99 B🇺🇸 USA
5Novartis
NVS
$207.70 B🇨🇭 Switzerland
6AbbVie
ABBV
$202.60 B🇺🇸 USA
7Merck
MRK
$191.67 B🇺🇸 USA
8Novo Nordisk
NVO
$187.83 B🇩🇰 Denmark
9Astrazeneca
AZN
$152.28 B🇬🇧 UK
10Bristol-Myers Squibb
BMY
$145.80 B🇺🇸 USA
11Amgen
AMGN
$136.50 B🇺🇸 USA
12Sanofi
SNY
$130.37 B🇫🇷 France
13CVS Health
CVS
$110.49 B🇺🇸 USA
14GlaxoSmithKline
GSK
$104.30 B🇬🇧 UK
15CSL
CSL.AX
$103.10 B🇦🇺 Australia
16Gilead Sciences
GILD
$83.62 B🇺🇸 USA
17Moderna
MRNA
$83.25 B🇺🇸 USA
18Merck KGaA
MRK.DE
$80.61 B🇩🇪 Germany
19Bayer
BAYZF
$59.43 B🇩🇪 Germany
20Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine
600276.SS
$58.51 B🇨🇳 China
21Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
REGN
$55.83 B🇺🇸 USA
22Biogen
BIIB
$55.00 B🇺🇸 USA
23BioNTech
BNTX
$54.23 B🇩🇪 Germany
24Takeda Pharmaceutical
TAK
$52.67 B🇯🇵 Japan
25Lonza
LONN.SW
$52.16 B🇨🇭 Switzerland
26Walgreens Boots Alliance
WBA
$45.05 B🇺🇸 USA
27Celltrion
068270.KS
$33.80 B🇰🇷 S. Korea
28Astellas Pharma
ALPMF
$33.42 B🇯🇵 Japan
29BeiGene
BGNE
$31.65 B🇨🇳 China
30Eisai
4523.T
$31.20 B🇯🇵 Japan
31West Pharma
WST
$26.59 B🇺🇸 USA
32Hansoh Pharma
3692.HK
$26.00 B🇨🇳 China
33LabCorp
LH
$25.97 B🇺🇸 USA
34Otsuka Holdings
4578.T
$23.15 B🇯🇵 Japan
35Horizon Therapeutics
HZNP
$21.13 B🇮🇪 Ireland
36Alnylam Pharmaceuticals
ALNY
$20.42 B🇺🇸 USA
37kyowa Kirin
4151.T
$18.85 B🇯🇵 Japan
38Catalent
CTLT
$18.74 B🇺🇸 USA
39Sino Biopharmaceutical
1177.HK
$18.48 B🇭🇰 Hong Kong
40Bio-Techne
TECH
$17.25 B🇺🇸 USA
41PPD
PPD
$16.26 B🇺🇸 USA
42Argenx
ARGX
$16.03 B🇳🇱 Netherlands
43Shionogi
4507.T
$15.29 B🇯🇵 Japan
44Dr. Reddy's
RDY
$11.88 B🇮🇳 India
45Teva Pharmaceutical Industries
TEVA
$11.21 B🇮🇱 Israel
46Ono Pharmaceutical
4528.T
$11.12 B🇯🇵 Japan
47ICON plc
ICLR
$11.09 B🇮🇪 Ireland
48Bausch Health
BHC
$10.47 B🇨🇦 Canada
49CRISPR Therapeutics
CRSP
$10.42 B🇨🇭 Switzerland
50Curevac
CVAC
$10.33 B🇩🇪 Germany
51Hualan Biological Engineering
002007.SZ
$10.31 B🇨🇳 China
52Vifor Pharma
VIFN.SW
$9.49 B🇨🇭 Switzerland
53Neurocrine Biosciences
NBIX
$9.45 B🇺🇸 USA
54Sinopharm
1099.HK
$9.42 B🇨🇳 China
55BridgeBio Pharma
BBIO
$8.89 B🇺🇸 USA
56Cadila Healthcare
CADILAHC.NS
$8.59 B🇮🇳 India
57Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma
4506.T
$8.16 B🇯🇵 Japan
58Tilray
TLRY
$7.89 B🇨🇦 Canada
59Ascendis Pharma
ASND
$7.51 B🇩🇰 Denmark
60Evotec
EVT.F
$7.19 B🇩🇪 Germany
61Lupin Limited
LUPIN.NS
$7.04 B🇮🇳 India
62Gland Pharma
GLAND.NS
$7.01 B🇮🇳 India
63Exelixis
EXEL
$6.95 B🇺🇸 USA
64GW Pharmaceuticals
GWPH
$6.81 B🇬🇧 UK
65KOBAYASHI Pharmaceutical
4967.T
$6.78 B🇯🇵 Japan
66Torrent Pharmaceuticals
TORNTPHARM.NS
$6.61 B🇮🇳 India
67Biocon
BIOCON.NS
$6.43 B🇮🇳 India
68PeptiDream
4587.T
$6.32 B🇯🇵 Japan
69Sarepta Therapeutics
SRPT
$6.25 B🇺🇸 USA
70Perrigo
PRGO
$6.21 B🇮🇪 Ireland
71Orion Corporation
ORNAV.HE
$6.11 B🇫🇮 Finland
72Lundbeck
LDB.F
$6.04 B🇩🇰 Denmark
73AbCellera
ABCL
$5.87 B🇨🇦 Canada
74Adaptive Biotechnologies
ADPT
$5.69 B🇺🇸 USA
75Intellia Therapeutics
NTLA
$5.62 B🇺🇸 USA
76Santen Pharmaceutical
4536.T
$5.49 B🇯🇵 Japan
77Nippon Shinyaku
4516.T
$5.46 B🇯🇵 Japan
78Beam Therapeutics
BEAM
$5.43 B🇺🇸 USA
79Reata Pharmaceuticals
RETA
$5.15 B🇺🇸 USA
80Swedish Orphan Biovitrum
SOBI.ST
$5.13 B🇸🇪 Sweden
81BB Biotech
BION.SW
$5.08 B🇨🇭 Switzerland
82Alkem Laboratories
ALKEM.NS
$5.00 B🇮🇳 India
83Abbott India
ABBOTINDIA.NS
$4.69 B🇮🇳 India
84Laurus Labs
LAURUSLABS.NS
$4.44 B🇮🇳 India
85Taisho Pharmaceutical
4581.T
$4.39 B🇯🇵 Japan
86Hanmi Pharmaceutical
008930.KS
$4.22 B🇰🇷 S. Korea
87Alkermes
ALKS
$3.87 B🇮🇪 Ireland
88Karuna Therapeutics
KRTX
$3.71 B🇺🇸 USA
89Shinpoong Pharm
019170.KS
$3.65 B🇰🇷 S. Korea
90NantKwest
NK
$3.55 B🇺🇸 USA
91Ipca Laboratories
IPCALAB.NS
$3.41 B🇮🇳 India
92Nektar Therapeutics
NKTR
$3.02 B🇺🇸 USA
93BioCryst Pharmaceuticals
BCRX
$3.01 B🇺🇸 USA
94Vericel
VCEL
$2.96 B🇺🇸 USA
95Dicerna Pharmaceuticals
DRNA
$2.84 B🇺🇸 USA
96Rocket Pharmaceuticals
RCKT
$2.74 B🇺🇸 USA
97Axsome Therapeutics
AXSM
$2.65 B🇺🇸 USA
98Natco Pharma
NATCOPHARM.NS
$2.63 B🇮🇳 India
99Alembic Pharmaceuticals
APLLTD.NS
$2.59 B🇮🇳 India
100Editas Medicine
EDIT
$2.54 B🇺🇸 USA

World’s Largest Pharmaceutical Exporters and Importers

According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), these countries exported the most number of pharmaceuticals in the year 2019:

RankCountryExport Value (US$B)
1🇩🇪 Germany$91.4
2🇨🇭 Switzerland$84.8
3🇺🇸 U.S.$55.7
4🇧🇪 Belgium$55.7
5🇮🇪 Ireland$55.4

In contrast, here are the biggest importers over the same period.

RankCountryImport Value (US$B)
1🇺🇸 U.S.$132.4
2🇩🇪 Germany$59.4
3🇧🇪 Belgium$47.3
4🇨🇳 China$35.7
5🇳🇱 Netherlands$33.5

This position is hardly surprising for the U.S., where six of the world’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies are headquartered. The country also captures 45% of the global market.

The Future of Pharmaceutical Companies

If the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that in building a patient-centered future, the pharmaceutical industry plays a key role. It has to constantly find new ways to customize medicines while researching and developing new tools and drugs.

By embracing disruptive technologies like 3D printed drugs, artificial intelligence guided therapies, and preventive medicine while working with regulatory agencies, the pharmaceutical companies will benefit from having a digital revolution.

Furthermore, emerging markets will have a more significant say in the global pharmaceutical market in the coming years. Even though ‘big pharma’ will keep raking in the massive profits they do every year, their reliance on countries like Brazil and India for research and drug production will significantly impact the years to come.

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Economy

When Will Your Country Recover from the Pandemic?

The path to COVID-19 recovery varies worldwide—some countries have already recovered, while others will not be back to normal for years.

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What started as a novel virus in China quickly became a sweeping disease that shut down the world and put a 1.5 year halt on the global economy.

But while some countries’ economies are already back to normal, others are lagging far behind.

COVID-19 Recovery Timelines, by OECD Country

This chart using data from the OECD anticipates when countries will economically recover from the global pandemic, based on getting back to pre-pandemic levels of GDP per capita.

Note: The categorization of ‘advanced’ or ‘emerging’ economy was determined by OECD standards.

covid-19 recovery time by country

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The Leaders of the Pack

At the top, China and the U.S. are recovering at breakneck speed. In fact, recovering is the wrong word for China, as they reached pre-pandemic GDP per capita levels just after Q2’2020.

On the other end, some countries are looking at years—not months—when it comes to their recovery date. Saudi Arabia isn’t expected to recover until after Q1’2024, and Argentina is estimated to have an even slower recovery, occurring only after Q2’2026.

CountryRecoveryEconomy
🇧🇪 BelgiumAfter Q4 2022Advanced
🇸🇪 SwedenAfter Q4 2021Advanced
🇸🇰 SlovakiaAfter Q4 2021Advanced
🇳🇿 New ZealandAfter Q4 2021Advanced
🇩🇪 GermanyAfter Q4 2021Advanced
🇪🇪 EstoniaAfter Q4 2021Advanced
🇩🇰 DenmarkAfter Q4 2021Advanced
🇮🇸 IcelandAfter Q3 2023Advanced
🇸🇮 SloveniaAfter Q3 2022Advanced
🇵🇹 PortugalAfter Q3 2022Advanced
🇫🇷 FranceAfter Q3 2022Advanced
🇦🇹 AustriaAfter Q3 2022Advanced
🇵🇱 PolandAfter Q3 2021Advanced
🇳🇴 NorwayAfter Q3 2021Advanced
🇱🇺 LuxembourgAfter Q3 2021Advanced
🇱🇻 LatviaAfter Q3 2021Advanced
🇯🇵 JapanAfter Q3 2021Advanced
🇫🇮 FinlandAfter Q3 2021Advanced
🇪🇸 SpainAfter Q2 2023Advanced
🇬🇧 United KingdomAfter Q2 2022Advanced
🇳🇱 NetherlandsAfter Q2 2022Advanced
🇮🇹 ItalyAfter Q2 2022Advanced
🇬🇷 GreeceAfter Q2 2022Advanced
🇨🇿 Czech RepublicAfter Q2 2022Advanced
🇨🇦 CanadaAfter Q2 2022Advanced
🇺🇸 United StatesAfter Q2 2021Advanced
🇰🇷 South KoreaAfter Q2 2021Advanced
🇮🇪 IrelandAfter Q2 2021Advanced
🇨🇭 SwitzerlandAfter Q1 2022Advanced
🇮🇱 IsraelAfter Q1 2022Advanced
🇭🇺 HungaryAfter Q1 2022Advanced
🇦🇺 AustraliaAfter Q1 2022Advanced
🇱🇹 LithuaniaAfter Q1 2021Advanced
🇿🇦 South AfricaAfter Q4 2022Emerging
🇮🇩 IndonesiaAfter Q4 2021Emerging
🇮🇳 IndiaAfter Q4 2021Emerging
🇲🇽 MexicoAfter Q3 2023Emerging
🇨🇴 ColombiaAfter Q3 2022Emerging
🇧🇷 BrazilAfter Q3 2022Emerging
🇨🇱 ChileAfter Q3 2021Emerging
🇹🇷 TurkeyAfter Q3 2020Emerging
🇦🇷 ArgentinaAfter Q2 2026Emerging
🇨🇷 Costa RicaAfter Q2 2023Emerging
🇷🇺 RussiaAfter Q2 2021Emerging
🇨🇳 ChinaAfter Q2 2020Emerging
🇸🇦 Saudi ArabiaAfter Q1 2024Emerging

Most countries will hit pre-pandemic levels of GDP per capita by the end of 2022. The slowest recovering advanced economies—Iceland and Spain—aren’t expected to bounce back until 2023.

Four emerging economies are speeding ahead, and are predicted to get back on their feet by the end of this year or slightly later (if they haven’t already):

  • 🇷🇺 Russia: after Q2’2021
  • 🇨🇱 Chile: after Q3’2021
  • 🇮🇳 India: after Q4’2021
  • 🇮🇩 Indonesia: after Q4’2021

However, no recovery is guaranteed, and many countries will continue face setbacks as waves of COVID-19 variants hit—India, for example, was battling its biggest wave as recently as May 2021.

Trailing Behind

Why are some countries recovering faster than others? One factor seems to be vaccination rates.

CountryDoses Administered per 100 PeopleTotal Doses AdministeredPercent of Population Fully Vaccinated
World473,573,004,544
🇦🇪 U.A.E.16616,194,52669%
🇲🇹 Malta143718,41871%
🇧🇭 Bahrain1362,224,91663%
🇮🇸 Iceland129466,43470%
🇺🇾 Uruguay1294,458,39458%
🇨🇱 Chile12824,248,54560%
🇦🇼 Aruba125133,42159%
🇶🇦 Qatar1233,474,94456%
🇬🇧 United Kingdom12281,438,89253%
Mongolia1213,912,99656%
Israel12110,959,63358%
Canada11844,293,65948%
Singapore1136,440,73542%
Belgium11112,700,51346%
Curaçao108170,85751%
Denmark1086,266,89243%
Maldives106561,74846%
Netherlands10518,273,23843%
Spain10549,585,19749%
Hungary10410,155,46654%
Portugal10310,579,25944%
Luxembourg102633,97441%
Germany10284,989,85045%
China1021,426,347,000
United States101336,054,95348%
Ireland1014,995,71944%
Austria1008,866,47444%
Italy9959,966,90841%
Switzerland958,133,48642%
France9362,321,35540%
Sweden939,536,16436%
Finland904,951,92526%
Norway894,785,93731%
Greece899,560,59242%
Lithuania882,459,60542%
Czech Republic889,346,39738%
Poland8532,413,19942%
Dominican Rep.849,066,15134%
Estonia791,049,41634%
Serbia785,415,43438%
Slovenia781,626,07236%
Cyprus76916,81935%
Turkey7461,747,39923%
Slovakia734,003,63933%
Mauritius71901,53024%
Croatia712,870,86632%
Macau69434,72627%
Cuba697,767,60117%
Latvia661,264,43333%
Bhutan64487,0600.02%
Saudi Arabia6321,556,3149.2%
Hong Kong624,638,90826%
Barbados59168,95525%
Argentina5826,134,81511%
Brazil57120,726,75216%
Kuwait562,375,45522%
Morocco5620,584,81226%
Cambodia56924292524%
El Salvador533,422,21420%
Japan5366,714,52820%
Costa Rica522,606,79116%
French Polynesia51141,52324%
Montenegro49304,65523%
Fiji47419,9988%
Romania479,092,14124%
Guyana46363,44216%
Colombia4522,624,56819%
Jordan454,498,74818%
Azerbaijan424,242,72717%
Panama421,781,54215%
Mexico4152,704,96017%
Malaysia4113,107,68113%
South Korea4121,157,61212%
New Caledonia40115,21819%
Ecuador406,890,87610%
Kazakhstan397,303,18014%
Suriname38222,3778%
Australia389,631,80710%
Belize38147,08010%
Albania371,052,10816%
Russia3550,383,63814%
Oman351,728,6186%
North Macedonia34713,11413%
Samoa3262,1614.7%
Moldova31834,52713%
Grenada3135,07213%
Peru319,954,42912%
Saint Lucia3054,36113%
Sri Lanka296,431,1007.3%
India29391,340,4916%
New Zealand291,404,34311%
Brunei28121,2414.3%
Tonga2728,667
Bulgaria271,896,57412%
Bolivia273,117,5217%
Trinidad and Tobago27375,92411%
Bahamas2597,99210%
Lebanon251,693,1649%
Laos241,708,9819%
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines2325,509
Cape Verde23124,9583%
Timor-Leste22281,2833%
Indonesia2155,819,7816%
Equatorial Guinea21279,1129%
West Bank & Gaza20958,5199%
Thailand1913,533,7175%
Taiwan194,603,6391%
Tunisia192,206,9806%
São Tomé and Príncipe1837,7165%
Bosnia and Herzegovina14470,2185%
Venezuela144,000,0004%
Nepal133,730,3444%
Philippines1314,074,5144%
Botswana12284,6765%
Honduras121,172,8301%
Paraguay12826,6422%
Belarus
Zimbabwe111,575,5394%
Comoros1190,880
Uzbekistan113,541,4424%
Pakistan102,166,06502%
Jamaica9.8290,3824%
Armenia8.8260,8132%
Ukraine8.83,899,8903%
Iran7.96,530,1243%
Georgia7.8289,3993%
South Africa7.74,535,2223%
Guatemala6.91,146,4771%
Namibia6.7166,6161%
Myanmar6.5*3,500,000
Libya6.3425,119
Bangladesh6.210,108,2243%
Guinea6770,6882%
Algeria
Eswatini5.260,0692%
Rwanda5.1646,9092%
Senegal5.1823,6102%
Angola4.91,558,2012%
Egypt4.84,851,3491%
Vanuatu4.714,026
Vietnam4.34,185,6230.3%
Togo
Tajikistan4.3397,6940.2%
Ghana4.21,265,3061%
Mauritania4182,6420.3%
Solomon Islands3.825,6281%
Ivory Coast3.3861,278
Gabon3.372,3511%
Republic of the Congo3163,742
Kenya2.91,550,3891%
Sierra Leone2.9225,3800.2%
Iraq2.81,087,8661%
Djibouti2.826,796
Afghanistan2.71,024,1681%
Kyrgyzstan2.7173,7001.%
Lesotho2.756,3221%
Nicaragua
Uganda2.41,079,943
Malawi2.3428,4070.2%
Nigeria23,938,9451%
Liberia1.995,4230.2%
Ethiopia1.92,090,997
Gambia1.943,5571%
Niger1.8423,3350.3%
Mozambique1.7508,1841%
Central African Republic1.778,685
Somalia1.6249,7901%
Sudan1.6677,9570.3%
Zambia1.4243,8180.3%
Guinea-Bissau1.325,0120.1%
Yemen1297,405<0.1%
Mali1196,8620.3%
Syria0.8131,2210.1%
Madagascar0.7197,001
Turkmenistan
Cameroon0.6163,9210.1%
Papua New Guinea0.651,170<0.1%
South Sudan0.555,915<0.1%
Benin0.452,5630.1%
Burkina Faso0.233,960<0.1%
Chad0.224,459<0.1%
Congo0.173,764<0.1%

As of July 16th, 2021.

The higher the rate of vaccination, the harder it is for COVID-19 to spread. This gives countries a chance to loosen restrictions, let people get back to work and regular life, and fuel the economy. Additionally, the quicker vaccines are rolled out, the less time there is for variants to mutate.

Another factor is the overall strength of a country’s healthcare infrastructure. More advanced economies often have more ICU capacity, more efficient dissemination of public health information, and, simply, more hospital staff. These traits help better handle the pandemic, with reduced cases, less restrictions, and a speedy recovery.

Finally, the level of government support and fiscal stimulus injected into different economies has determined how swiftly they’ve recovered. Similar to the disparity in vaccine rollouts, there was a significant fiscal stimulus gap, especially during the heat of the pandemic.

Recovering to Normal?

Many experts and government leaders are now advocating for funneling more money into healthcare infrastructure and disease research preventatively. The increased funding now would help stop worldwide shut downs and needless loss of life in future.

Time will tell when we return to “normal” everywhere, however, normal will likely never be the same. Many impacts of the global pandemic will stay with us over the long term.

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Markets

Charted: The Gen Z Unemployment Rate, Compared to Older Generations

COVID-19 has impacted everyone, but one generation is taking it harder than the others. This graphic reveals the Gen Z unemployment rate.

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Putting the Gen Z Unemployment Rate in Perspective

There are more than 2 billion people in the Generation Z age range globally. These individuals, born between 1997 and 2009, represent about 30% of the total global population—and it’s predicted that by 2025, Gen Z will make up about 27% of the workforce.

Due to the global pandemic, unemployment has been on the rise across the board—but Gen Z has been hit the hardest. This chart, using data from the OECD, displays the difference between the unemployment rate for Gen Zers and the rate for older generations.

Note: The OECD defines the ‘unemployed’ as people of legal working age who don’t have work, are available to work, and have taken steps to find a job. The final figure is the number of unemployed people as a share of the total labor force.

The Generation Gap: Gen Z Unemployment

Compared to their older working-age counterparts, Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials (Gen Y)—the most recent 2020 data shows that Gen Z has an unemployment rate of nearly 2x more in almost every OECD country.

CountryUnemployment Rate (Gen Z)Unemployment Rate (Millennial, Gen X, Boomer)
🇦🇺 Australia14.3%5.0%
🇦🇹 Austria10.5%4.7%
🇧🇪 Belgium15.3%4.8%
🇨🇦 Canada20.0%7.9%
🇨🇱 Chile24.8%9.6%
🇨🇴 Colombia27.5%13.9%
🇨🇿 Czech Republic8.0%2.3%
🇩🇰 Denmark11.5%4.7%
🇪🇪 Estonia17.7%5.9%
🇫🇮 Finland21.0%6.0%
🇫🇷 France20.1%6.8%
🇩🇪 Germany6.2%4.0%
🇭🇺 Hungary12.4%3.5%
🇮🇸 Iceland11.9%5.5%
🇮🇪 Ireland15.2%4.4%
🇮🇱 Israel7.9%3.7%
🇮🇹 Italy29.1%-
🇯🇵 Japan4.5%2.6%
🇰🇷 South Korea10.5%3.6%
🇱🇻 Latvia14.8%7.7%
🇱🇹 Lithuania19.5%7.7%
🇱🇺 Luxembourg22.4%5.6%
🇲🇽 Mexico8.0%3.8%
🇳🇱 Netherlands9.1%2.8%
🇳🇿 New Zealand12.4%3.3%
🇵🇱 Poland10.9%2.6%
🇵🇹 Portugal22.9%5.9%
🇸🇰 Slovakia19.3%6.0%
🇸🇮 Slovenia14.2%4.3%
🇪🇸 Spain38.3%14.0%
🇸🇪 Sweden23.8%6.4%
🇨🇭 Switzerland8.6%4.3%
🇬🇧 United Kingdom13.5%3.2%
🇺🇸 United States15.1%7.1%

Note: For the purposes of this article, we are only considering the Gen Zers of legal working age—those born 1997-2006. The rest—Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials—are those born between 1946–1996.

The timing for the youngest working generation could not be worse. Gen Z is just beginning to graduate college and high school, and are beginning to search for work and careers.

Gen Z is also an age group that is overrepresented in service industries like restaurants and travel–industries that were equally hard hit by the pandemic. In the U.S., for example, around 25% of young people work in the hospitality and leisure sectors. Between February and May 2020 alone, employment in these sectors decreased by 41%.

Countries like Spain are facing some of the biggest headwinds among OECD countries. The country already has a high unemployment rate for those aged 25-74, at 14%. But the unemployment rate for Gen Z is more than double that, at over 38%.

Implications For the Future

While it may be true throughout history that this age group is often less employed than older cohorts, the share of labor held by those aged 15-24 dropped significantly in 2020.

labor share gen z

Note: This chart represents the data from G7 countries.

In terms of their future employment prospects, some economists are anticipating what they call ‘scarring’. Due to longer periods of unemployment, Gen Z will miss out on formative years gaining experience and training. This may impact them later in life, as their ability to climb the career ladder will be affected.

Starting out slower can also hit earnings. One study found that long periods of youth unemployment can reduce lifetime income by 2%. Finally, it is also postulated that with the current economic situation, Gen Zers may accept lower paying jobs setting them on a track of comparatively lower earnings over their lifetime.

Overall, there are many future implications associated with the current unemployment rate for Gen Zers. Often getting your foot in the door after college or high school is one of the hardest steps in starting a career. Once you’re in, you gain knowledge, skills, and the oh-so-coveted experience needed to get ahead.

The Kids are Alright?

One positive for Gen Z is that they have been found to be more risk averse and financially conscious than other generations, and were so even prior to COVID-19. Many of them were children during the 2008 Recession and became very cautious as a result.

They are also the first digital generation— the first to grow up without any memory of a time before the internet. Additionally, they have been called the first global generation. This could mean that they pioneer location-independent careers, create innovative revenue streams, and find new ways to define work.

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