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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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Labour market resilience: The role of structural and macroeconomic policies

The chapter provides an overview of labour market resilience in the wake of the Great Recession of 2008-09 and the role played by macroeconomic and structural policies. The OECD unemployment rate has returned to close to its pre-crisis level, but the unemployment cost of the Great Recession has nonetheless been very large and long-lasting in many countries. Moreover, as the recovery in output has been weak relative to the recovery in employment, labour productivity and wage growth remain low. Labour market resilience depends crucially on macroeconomic and labour market policy settings. Macroeconomic policies are highly effective in limiting employment declines during economic downturns and preventing that cyclical increases in unemployment become structural. Spending on active labour market policies needs to respond strongly to cyclical increases in unemployment to promote a quick return to work in the recovery and preserve the mutual-obligations ethos of activation regimes. Overly strict employment protection for regular workers reduces resilience by promoting the use of temporary contracts and slowing job creation in the recovery. Co‐ordinated collective bargaining systems can promote resilience by facilitating wage and working-time adjustments.

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