Unemployment has soared in OECD countries in the years after the economic crisis and, although it partially recovered, the unemployment rate in 2014 was 7.3 in the OECD area, still 1.7 points higher than in 2007. In 2014, the difference in unemployment rates among all OECD regions was above 30 percentage points, almost 10 percentage points higher than the difference in unemployment among OECD countries. The largest regional disparities in unemployment rates were found in Turkey, Spain, Italy and Belgium (Figure 1.9).

In 13 out of the 24 OECD countries considered, on average the unemployment rate has increased more in predominantly urban regions than in predominantly rural regions, since 2008. In Greece, Slovenia, Ireland and Hungary, differences in unemployment growth by typology of regions were the largest. Only in Germany and Japan unemployment decreased on average in all types of regions between 2008 and 2014 (Figure 1.10).

The female employment rate has increased in OECD countries over the past decades, reaching 60% in 2014. However, important differences in the access to labour markets for women are still present: in 25% of OECD regions less than half of women were employed in 2014 suggesting that services to reconcile family and work life and incentives to labour market participation are quite diverse within countries. Regional disadvantages in female employment were the largest in Mexico, Turkey, Chile, the United States, Italy and Spain (Figure 1.11).


Employed people are all persons who, during the reference week, worked at least one hour for pay or profit or were temporarily absent from such work. Family workers are included. The female employment rate is calculated as the ratio between female employment and the female working-age population (15-64 years).

Unemployed persons are defined as those who are without work, are available for work, and have taken active steps to find work in the last four weeks. The unemployment rate is defined as the ratio between unemployed persons and labour force, where the latter is composed of unemployed and employed persons.


OECD (2015), OECD Regional Statistics (database),

See Annex for data sources and country-related metadata.

Reference years and territorial level

Regional gender differences in employment rates: Colombia, 2012; Brazil, 2013. No regional data are available for Estonia, Iceland, Israel and Luxembourg.

Regional variation in unemployment rates (TL2): Brazil, 2013, Czech Republic and Luxembourg 2013. No regional data are available for Estonia and Luxembourg.

Difference in unemployment rate, by type of region 2014 and 2008 (TL3). No regional data are available for Canada, Chile, Iceland, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. Belgium and Portugal are excluded for lack of data on the years considered.

Further information

OECD Regional Well-Being:

Information on data for Israel:

1.9. Regional variation in the unemployment rate, 2014

1.10. Change in unemployment rate, by type of region 2014 and 2008 (TL3)

1.11. Regional variation in gender differences of employment rate (male-female), 2014