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Top 10 Countries With the Highest Employment Rates

Margaret has a bachelor's degree in International and European Studies. She has thoroughly studied global economy, history and development.


A country's employment rate is one of the most important factors that its economic development depends on, and it's an indicator of a country's general economic welfare. Nowadays, unemployment is one of the most crucial worldwide issues; it affects all developed, developing and least-developed countries. The term refers to a country's economic situation where its people are unable to find a job, no matter how hard they try to, and it has many causes and consequences.

In this article, I chose to present the top 10 countries with the highest employment rate for two different age groups: individuals aged 15–24 and people aged 25–54. The data were taken from OECD's database, an intergovernmental organization that has been collecting data from 36 different countries on numerous fields, employment being one of them.

The true charity is not giving bread or money but providing employment.

— Ilkin Santak

How Is the Unemployment Rate Calculated?

In regards to a country's unemployment rate, it is measured as the number of its unemployed people, divided by the total number of its people who are in the labor force. According to OECD, in order to be defined as unemployed, one has to:

  • Be aged 15 and over.
  • Be neither in paid employment nor in self-employment.
  • Be available for work during the reference period.

Countries With the Highest Employment Rate Among 15-24 Year-Olds

CountryEmployment Rate in 2017Employment Rate in 2018Employment Rate in 2019




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New Zealand







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United States




United Kingdom




Highest Employment Rates for Ages 15–24

The countries located in Northern and Western Europe dominate the list of the countries with the highest employment rate among individuals aged 15–24. Iceland comes first with the employment rate reaching 75,4% in 2018, followed by Netherlands and Switzerland, with the first scoring an employment rate equal to 63,9% and the latter a rate of 62,6%.

Australasia and Canada come next, with Australia taking the 4th place with its employment rate being 60,3% in 2019, and New Zealand assuming the 6th place with an employment rate equal to 56,6%. The world's 2nd largest country, Canada, scores the 5th place, since its employment rate for 2019 was 57,5%.

The 7th and 8th places belong to Denmark and Austria, countries located in Northern and Western Europe, accordingly. They both employed a bit more than half of their 15–24 year-olds in 2018, with Denmark's employment rate being a 53,8% whereas the number of Austria's young population who were employed in 2018 was 51,4%.

Likewise, the United States' percentage of employed individuals aged 15–24 was 51,2% in 2019, scoring 9th in our list, not far from United Kingdom's employment rate which was 50,6% in both 2018 and 2019.

Countries With the Highest Employment Rate Among 25-54 Year-Olds

CountryEmployment Rate in 2017Employment Rate in 2018Employment Rate in 2019




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Highest Employment Rates for Ages 25–54

After taking a quick look at both of the tables showing the employment rates for the two different age groups, one can quickly realize that the world's employment rate is way higher for individuals aged 25–54 than it is for those aged 15–24. What is more, with the exception of Iceland, which is the country with the highest employment rate among this age rate too (89,1% of the country's 25–54 year-olds were employed in 2018), Switzerland and New Zealand, we see completely different countries taking the first places in regards to their employment rate.

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Iceland is followed by Slovenia and the Czech Republic, both of which had an employment rate equal to 87,5 % in 2018. Next is Russia, since 87% of its individuals aged 25–54 were employed in 2019, Switzerland, whose employment rate was up to 86,7% in 2018 and Sweden, a Scandinavian country where the employment rate among its 25- to 54-year-olds reached 86,6% in 2018.

Japan and Germany, the world's 3rd and 4th largest economies, also have a high employment rate (85,9% among Japan's 25-54 year-olds had work in 2019 while 84,8% of the same age group were employed in Germany). The same goes for New Zealand (with an employment rate up to 84,8% in 2019) and Lithuania (84,7% of its 25- to 54-year-olds were employed in 2018).


What Are the Causes of Unemployment?

Unemployment is one of the most common and complicated issues the global community has to deal with. Its roots can be found in a number of causes, the most important of which are:

  • A country's increased population.
  • A country's human resources being uneducated/unqualified.
  • The rapid development and spread of technology.
  • A great number of low wage jobs/job dissatisfaction.
  • Discrimination.

1. A Country's Increased Population

One of a country's main issues that can lead to unemployment is its increased population. The more increased a country's population is, the bigger the demand for work will be, which makes it difficult for any country to create job opportunities for all of them. India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil and Mexico are among the countries with the highest population of the world and also ones whose governments struggle to deal with unemployment.

2. A Country's Uneducated/Unqualified Human Resources

Another cause of unemployment can be its people's lack of education, skills or qualifications. This refers to individuals who didn't receive any kind of higher education, or whose education wasn't directed towards the labor market, which results in lack of skills (for example, computer skills) for certain job positions.

3. The Rapid Development and Spread of Technology

Technology is developing at an amazingly rapid pace, a fact that offers the world numerous advantages but has also a negative effect on employment. Since the Industrial Revolution, technological innovations have been replacing humans in tasks that previously required a physical presence (factories being a great example) while they have also made certain tasks more simple, something that affects the less skilled individuals.

4. A Great Number of Low Wage Jobs/Job Dissatisfaction

Low wage jobs are a common phenomenon in many countries, but the thing is, they can dishearten individuals, who will reject them, especially those who are highly skilled, and increase the unemployment rate. Who would want to spend years in education and training only to get a low wage job? On the other hand, even though a lot of people put much effort and dedication to their work, their employers might be harsh and unappreciative of their efforts. This can result in employers quitting their jobs and search new, appreciative employers who will value their efforts.

5. Discrimination

Unfortunately, discrimination is a treatment many employees have to deal with in their working environments. Discrimination due to gender, age, race, religion or sexual orientation can have as a result people being discouraged to search for a job, them not being able to secure one or quitting a job they have found. As a consequence, the country's total unemployment rate rises.

Employment is the surest antidote to sorrow.

— Ann Radcliffe

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2020 Margaret Pan

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