Unemployment across the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development fell for the third straight month in December, driven by falling jobless rates among young people and men.
The OECD said Tuesday the unemployment rate for its members--mostly countries with developed economies--fell to 7.6 per cent from 7.7 per cent in November and 7.8 per cent in October, having been steady at 7.9 per cent for much of 2013.
The sustained decline suggests the labour market has started to benefit from the modest economic recovery that took root across developed economies last year.
In another encouraging development, the rate of youth unemployment fell to 15.5 per cent from 15.6 per cent in November. Young people were particularly hard hit by the shrinking job market in the years following the global financial crisis, leading to fears of a "lost generation" whose life prospects would be impaired by a lack of work experience.
The number of people without jobs fell to 46.2 million from 46.9 million in November, but remained 11.5 million higher than in July 2008, before the global financial crisis and ensuing economic slowdown.
The United States and Japan led the decline in unemployment, while Spain and Ireland also recorded significantly lower rates in December. However, jobless rates increased in Canada, Israel and Mexico.
Business surveys suggest the decline in unemployment will continue in coming months. Data firm Markit's surveys of 16,000 companies based in 32 countries during January found new jobs were created, although at a slower pace than in December, and led by the US, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and Ireland.
Unemployment rates vary widely across developed economies. In December, Spain registered the highest rate of unemployment, at 25.8 per cent, while South Korea registered the lowest, at 3.0 per cent.
- Dow Jones Newswires