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OECD Employment Outlook 2017

image of OECD Employment Outlook 2017

The 2017 edition of the OECD Employment Outlook reviews recent labour market trends and short-term prospects in OECD countries. Chapter 1 presents a comparative scoreboard of labour market performance that encompasses the quantity and quality of employment, as well as the inclusiveness of the labour market. During the past decade, most countries managed to better integrate women and potentially disadvantaged groups into the labour market and improve the quality of the working environment, whereas earnings quality was more or less stable and labour market security worsened. Chapter 2 looks at the resilience of labour markets following the global crisis and shows how both structural reforms and expansionary fiscal policy mitigate the unemployment costs of adverse aggregate shocks. OECD countries generally have avoided an increase in structural unemployment, but not a marked deceleration of wage and productivity growth. Chapter 3 documents the impact of technological progress and globalisation on OECD labour markets over the past two decades. Technology is shown to have been strongly associated with both job polarisation and de-industrialisation. The impact of trade integration is difficult to detect and probably small, although rising imports from China has a small effect in depressing employment in manufacturing. Chapter 4 provides an exceptionally rich portrait of collective bargaining in OECD countries that makes it possible to understand better how national systems differ and the implications of those differences for economic performance.

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Editorial. The backlash against globalisation: What does it mean for employment policy?

2016 was a paradoxical year for employment policy. While an expanding majority of OECD countries had finally closed the massive jobs gap that opened during the Great Recession and unemployment continued to fall, people in a number of countries expressed increased dissatisfaction with economic performance and, in some of them, clearly indicated they did not believe that policy makers were effectively representing their interests. While the Great Recession left deep scars in many countries, the economic discontent also centres on the perception that deeper international economic integration disadvantages many workers while offering the lion’s share of the benefits to large corporations and a cosmopolitan elite. The perception that the international economic system is “rigged” clearly challenges the democratic legitimacy of current policies and thus needs to be taken seriously. It also challenges the policy advice offered by international organisations like the OECD, which has long emphasised the economic benefits of global integration, but only recently adopted an inclusive growth approach that pays due attention to the distribution of those benefits across the population. In view of the current scepticism about the policy orthodoxy, this editorial begins the process of reassessing which choices labour market policy makers have got more or less right and which they have got wrong and where a change of approach is required. These reflections are intended to contribute to the broader rethinking of the full range of economic policies that is currently underway at the OECD and elsewhere.

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