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Charted: Youth Unemployment in the OECD and China

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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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Markets

China’s Real Estate Crisis, Shown in Two Charts

These charts show China’s real estate boom in the 21st century and the subsequent slowdown since 2022.

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Charts of China's real estate market slowdown.

Visualizing China’s Real Estate Boom and Crisis

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Evergrande—once China’s largest real estate developer—was forced to liquidate on January 28th. It was yet another strike against the country’s now fledgling real estate market, adding to a growing list of China’s economic worries.

In the charts above we show two annual metrics related to China’s real estate crisis from 2003 to 2023. The first looks at apartment and commercial property sales using Burreau of Statistics data from Bloomberg, and the second examines new housing starts using data from the World Bank.

Things to Know About China’s Property Slump

Property sales by value in China climbed pretty steadily from less than ¥1 trillion RMB in 2003 to over ¥15 trillion in 2021, but have since dropped to under ¥12 trillion in 2023.

This was the case across both residential and commercial sales. In China’s residential market specifically, new home sales dropped 6% in 2023, with secondhand home prices declining in major cities.

And on the development side, new residential developments have fallen 58% from 1,515 million m² in 2019 to 637 million m² in 2023.

YearNew Residential Building Developments
(million sq meters)
2023637.4
2022817.3
20211,350.2
20201,473.4
20191,514.5
20181,385.4
20171,160.9
20161,047.8
2015970.8
20141,146.4
20131,318.5
20121,199.1
20111,349.4
20101,147.2
2009784.9
2008695.4
2007662.3
2006531.8
2005446.5
2004390.0
2003352.4
2002276.5

Here are a few more things to know about the ongoing real estate crisis in China:

  • Developer Defaults: Real estate firms faced $125 billion in bond defaults between 2020 and 2023.
  • Economic Impact: The property sector’s slump has dragged down China’s economy, leading to layoffs and financial instability.
  • Getting Creative: Municipalities, many of which rely on land sales as a key source of income, have been introducing “old-for-new” support measures meant to stimulate new home purchases.

Experts predict a prolonged downturn, with many people souring on Chinese investments, but exactly how things will develop after Evergrande’s collapse is unclear.

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