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Charted: Youth Unemployment in the OECD and China



A bar chart showing the youth unemployment rates of all OECD countries and China.

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Charted: Youth Unemployment in the OECD and China

In nearly every country in the world, youth unemployment is much higher than general unemployment.

Unfortunately, the pandemic only exacerbated matters. During a crucial stretch of their early careers, young adults were locked out of entry-level jobs, destroying their ability to pick up work experience and potentially impacting their long-term earnings.

Now, nearly three years after COVID-19 first hit, young adults from some countries, like China, are struggling to find jobs. Using data from the OECD and the National Bureau of Statistics of China, we chart out the youth unemployment rate for 37 countries.

Ranked: Countries With the Highest Youth Unemployment

At the top of the list, Spain has the highest youth unemployment in the OECD, with nearly one in three young adults unable to find a job.

ℹ️ Unemployed people are those who report that they are without work, are available for work, and have taken active steps to find work in the last four weeks. The youth unemployment rate is calculated as a percentage of the youth labor force.

A mismatch between educational qualifications and the labor market has been cited as a significant reason for Spain’s lack of employed adults between the ages of 15–24.

Meanwhile, the country’s reliance on temporary contracts and dependence on seasonal sectors—like tourism—to generate jobs are some of the many reasons for its persistently high reported unemployment across demographic groups.

Listed below is the youth unemployment rate for all the OECD countries, and China, as of the second quarter of 2023.

RankCountryAverage Youth
Unemployment Rate
1🇪🇸 Spain27.4%
2🇨🇷 Costa Rica27.1%
3🇸🇪 Sweden24.9%
4🇬🇷 Greece23.6%
5🇨🇳 China21.3%
6🇮🇹 Italy21.3%
7🇨🇱 Chile19.8%
8🇱🇺 Luxembourg19.6%
9🇸🇰 Slovakia18.8%
10🇨🇴 Colombia18.7%
11🇵🇹 Portugal17.2%
12🇹🇷 Türkiye17.0%
13🇫🇷 France16.9%
14🇫🇮 Finland15.8%
15🇪🇪 Estonia15.6%
16🇧🇪 Belgium13.9%
17🇱🇹 Lithuania13.8%
18🇨🇿 Czech Republic13.7%
19🇭🇺 Hungary13.3%
20🇬🇧 United Kingdom11.4%
21🇱🇻 Latvia11.0%
22🇵🇱 Poland10.3%
23🇳🇴 Norway10.2%
24🇨🇦 Canada10.2%
25🇦🇹 Austria9.6%
26🇩🇰 Denmark9.3%
27🇳🇱 Netherlands8.3%
28🇺🇸 United States8.0%
29🇦🇺 Australia7.8%
30🇮🇪 Ireland7.4%
31🇮🇸 Iceland7.3%
32🇩🇪 Germany6.1%
33🇸🇮 Slovenia5.6%
34🇰🇷 Korea5.4%
35🇮🇱 Israel5.3%
36🇲🇽 Mexico5.2%
37🇯🇵 Japan4.2%

Announced in June, China’s youth unemployment rate has climbed to 21.3%, a meteoric rise since May 2018, when it was below 10%. The Chinese economy is in the midst of a slowdown and its steadily climbing youth unemployment prompted the government to suspend age-specific unemployment data for the near future.

On the other side of the spectrum, in Japan, only 4.2% of young adults are without a job. A key reason for this is Japan’s shrinking and aging population that’s made for a tight labor market.

Youth Unemployment: Men vs Women

In most OECD countries, it’s common to see young men experiencing a higher unemployment rate compared to young women.

This contrasts with the trend across all age groups in the OECD, where the unemployment rate is 6.3% for women and 6% for men.

We visualize the countries in the dataset with the biggest gaps in youth unemployment below.

A bar chart showing the difference in youth unemployment rates between men and women for five countries in the OECD.

There is no singular reason that explains this common gap.

Across the OECD, more young women opt for tertiary education than young men, which may lead to better employment prospects. At the same time women are overrepresented in the health and social welfare sectors—both growing rapidly thanks to an aging population—that may make it easier for them to find jobs.

Why Does Tracking Youth Unemployment Matter?

Aside from being an indicator of general opportunities within a country, youth unemployment is a key metric to track, because it can be a bellwether for future economic prospects.

High rates of youth unemployment also correlate to brain drain within a country, as young adults move elsewhere to find better jobs.

Finally, large increases in unemployed youth have historically led to the potential of civil unrest, which makes it a politically-charged metric to identify and monitor for governments.

Where Does This Data Come From?

Sources: OECD Data and National Bureau of Statistics of China.

Note: China’s youth unemployment rate is for 16–24 year-olds. The OECD youth unemployment rate is for 15–24 year-olds.

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Visualizing the Most Sought-After Entry Level Jobs in 2023

Some jobs need a degree, while others don’t. Here are the top 20 most sought-after entry level jobs with and without a degree.



most sought after jobs

The Most Sought-After Entry Level Jobs of 2023

In the fast-paced realm of job hunting, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. And if you are an entry-level job applicant, the pressure is a notch higher.

New entrants in any job market today compete with groundbreaking technology like ChatGPT in addition to their peers. In the United States, these applicants have to also wade through an uncertain labor market, inflation, and long lists of job requirements. has identified the most sought-after entry level positions for applicants both with and without a degree in the U.S., and the year-on-year growth of these job postings.

Most Sought-After Entry-Level Jobs With a Degree

As the U.S. job market recovers from its pandemic slump, some careers are now booming. This in turn has opened up numerous opportunities for entry-level job applicants.

RankJob TitleAverage Annual SalaryChange in Postings
1Outside Sales Representative$60,000+258%
2Transportation Coordinator$47,500+227%
3Quality Auditor$84,500+131%
5Tax Preparer$67,500+123%
6Loan Processor$55,000+100%
7Retention Specialist$50,000+100%
8Network Operations Technician$85,500+94%
9Mental Health Manager$42,000+93%
10Speech-Language Pathologist$60,000+84%
11Geotechnical Engineer$65,000+80%
12Patient Access Manager$90,000+77%
13HR Coordinator$67,500+75%
14Lead Generation Specialist$62,500+73%
15Design Coordinator$55,000+73%
16Pharmaceutical Sales Representative$74,378+71%
17Behavioral Therapist$50,000+68%
18Special Events Coordinator$54,000+67%
19IT Engineer$92,500+67%
20Structural Engineer$90,000+63%

The demand for sales jobs multiplied this year as customer-facing businesses slowly returned to their pre-pandemic levels.

At the top of this list is the job for an Outside Sales Representative. Paying upwards of $60,000, postings for this job have grown by over 250% in a year, making it the most sought-after position for applicants with a degree.

The healthcare industry has secured its place in the top ranks too. Careers including mental health case managers, speech pathologists, behavioral therapists, and patient access managers dominate the Top 20 list.

Let’s not forget about the tech sector. While entry-level network technicians can earn upwards of $85,000 on average, while IT engineers are paid an entry package of over $90,000.

Most Sought-After Entry-Level Jobs Without a Degree

Nearly 65% of the U.S. working population does not have a four-year degree. However, millions of these workers continue to be highly skilled across professions and have a shot at some of the most sought-after entry level jobs in the country.

RankJob TitleAverage Annual SalaryChange in Postings
1Inventory Manager$59,000+189%
2Auto Body Technician$82,500+100%
3Environmental Health and Safety Specialist$65,000+100%
4Salon Manager$41,000+95%
5Drafting Technician$50,000+94%
6Business Analyst$72,500+82%
7Sheet Metal Mechanic$62,140+67%
8Aircraft Maintenance Technician$57,500+64%
9Catering Manager$47,500+56%
10Transportation/Logistics Coordinator$62,500+53%
11Route Sales Representative$50,000+51%
12Rental Agent$45,520+50%
13Distribution Center Coordinator$52,500+47%
14General Maintenance Technician$40,650+46%
15Patient Care Coordinator$43,152+44%
16Forestry Technician$45,760+43%
17Relationship Banker$43,576+43%
18Field Sales Representative$57,018+42%
19Park Ranger$45,912+42%
20Warehouse Receiver$45,000+39%

One example of this job is that of an Inventory Manager. The demand for skilled inventory managers in warehouses and companies post-pandemic has doubled the position’s job share in a year.

One of the highest paying non-degree jobs in this list—Auto Body Technician—can fetch highly-skilled entry-level workers a salary of $82,000 per year.

These jobs don’t seem to require a degree according to Indeed. However, the rising competition for these positions might give the upper edge to applicants with one, especially for jobs on the list such as Business Analyst and Relationship Banker.

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