Global Talent Update - February 2016

GlobeEurope, Middle East and Africa

Employment situations have varied across Europe, the Middle East and Africa since the start of 2016.

European economies see notable improvements

The BBC reported that unemployment in the U.K. dropped by 60,000 workers between October and December 2015. Nearly 31.5 million people are employed throughout the nation, which is the largest working population the region has experienced since records started being archived in 1971. While jobs are growing at a rapid pace throughout the U.K., wages have yet to achieve such notable improvements. Pay rose by just 2 per cent between October and December 2015.

The Financial Times noted that Spain's economy also showed signs of improvements at the end of 2015. Throughout the past year, Spain created 525,000 new positions, which helped drive the jobless rate down to 20.9 per cent. While this is still among Europe's steepest unemployment averages, it represents a major step in the right direction for the country, which continues to pull itself out of an economic crisis.

Boosted by high rates of women joining the workforce, Germany's unemployment rate reached a new record-low of 6.2 per cent. International Business Times reported that 78 per cent of residents between the ages of 20 and 64 are currently employed. This number has risen by 9 per cent in the past decade.

Economies struggle in the Middle East

Oil prices in Kuwait reached a 12-year low, reported Bloomberg. The nation's Finance Ministry, headed by Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh, recently released a statement discussing changes the country should consider making to reverse its downward financial trajectory. Al-Saleh recommended adding corporate, income and sales taxes while cutting government spending to restore a strong financial balance.

Turkey's economy experienced a modest boost between October and November 2015, reported Turkish Weekly, when its unemployment rate fell slightly to 10.5 per cent. Despite this small improvement, the nation's employment situation has been on a steady decline since May 2015, when its unemployment rate was 9.3 per cent.

South Africa continues crusade against high unemployment

South Africa's Democratic Alliance party recently stated that the nation loses 774 jobs each day. Although All Africa noted that this figure is likely inexact, South Africa's employment situation remains a major issue for the country. In the third quarter of 2015, over a quarter of the nation's eligible workers were unemployed.

Asia-Pacific

Employment has varied throughout Asia recently, with many nations maintaining relatively low jobless rates.

Australian unemployment on the rise

Australia's unemployment rate climbed unexpectedly in January, jumping from 5.8 per cent to 6 per cent. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the nation lost 800 jobs during the first month of 2016, while the number of people seeking work increased. The number of residents working part-time expanded by 32,700, while the amount of full-time workers fell by 40,600. The Australian dollar dropped in value by 0.6 per cent.

According to the publication, these new figures show Australia reverting back to an unstable economy after a strong 2015. Paul Dales, Capital Economics' chief economist for Australia, noted that this shift does not necessarily reflect drops in employer confidence.

"Just as the super strength in measured employment over most of 2015 overstated the improvement in labour market conditions, the falls in employment in December and January should not be interpreted as the labour market hitting a wall," stated Dales.

Job availability surges in Japan

Japan's job availability was at its best rate in nearly a quarter century at the end of December, reported Nikkei Asian Review. While the nation's unemployment rate climbed 0.2 per cent between October and November, it remained unchanged at 3.3 per cent between November and December.

The total number of available positions was 127 jobs for every 100 job seekers. The industries that added the most workers in December were healthcare, welfare and manufacturing.

Thailand named 'World's Happiest Economy'

Bloomberg recently released its annual Misery Index, which measures how depressed economies are throughout the world. While Venezuela earned the No.1 spot, Thailand came in last on the list, making it the happiest economy on earth. The country, which earned the same title last year, retains an unemployment rate of about 0.9 per cent.

Americas

Wages rise and unemployment falls in U.S.

After years of stagnant wages, salaries in the U.S. were on the rise in January. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average hourly earnings increased by 0.5 per cent in the first month of 2016. Job growth continued to be relatively strong, and the nation ended last month with a jobless rate of 4.9 per cent. The largest gains were seen in the retail, food service, healthcare, manufacturing and financial activities industries.

"After reaching 10 per cent in 2009, the unemployment rate has now fallen to 4.9 per cent even as more Americans joined the job market last month. Americans are working," stated President Barack Obama at a recent White House briefing.

Mexican unemployment hits  6-year low

At the end of last year, Mexico's unemployment rate reached 4.4 per cent, its lowest average since 2010. The Yucatan Times reported that, among nations that are part of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Mexico achieved the fourth-lowest unemployment rate. Japan, Iceland and Korea were the only countries that had fewer jobless residents.

The unemployment rate among workers 25 and over was just 3.4 per cent, while joblessness for ages 15 to 24 stood at 8.7 per cent.

Costa Rica continues to struggle with unemployment

In Costa Rica, unemployment remains a major issue. The Costa Rican Times reported that 9.6 per cent of residents were unemployed in the last quarter of 2015. While this figure actually dropped by 0.1 per cent from one year earlier, the nation's labour force participation rate fell by 2 per cent during the same period.

The Costa Rican industries that have been shedding the most jobs are healthcare and education, noted the source. Between the end of 2014 and December 2015 the total number of people employed in these sectors fell from 212,000 to 187,000.