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OECD Employment Outlook: June 2000

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Output and employment are growing at a reasonable clip and unemployment, while still unacceptably high, is declining in many OECD countries. However, policies to durably reduce unemployment and promote job creation remain crucial. Beyond short-term projections, the OECD Employment Outlook provides in-depth analyses of labour market issues and developments which improve the understanding of the design of more equitable and efficient employment policies. REWARDING WORK, the subject of this year's editorial, outlines the key advantages and disadvantages of policies to make work pay. It pays special attention to the redistributive, employment and skill upgrading impacts of such policies. NEW MEMBER COUNTRIES - The 1990s witnessed the first expansion in OECD membership since 1973, as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Korea, Mexico and Poland joined. Employment developments in these countries during the past decade reflected deep institutional reforms and considerable economic stress. In the face of an often difficult economic environment, they exhibited considerable resilience and, in some areas made progress in their efforts to catch up economically with the other OECD countries. REGIONAL LABOUR MARKET DISPARITIES are important and persistent in many OECD countries. Such disparities are only partly explained by the composition of the labour force and the sectoral mix of regions. A specific regional dimension of labour markets clearly exists in many countries. The need for effective regional policies, therefore, remains as great as ever, notwithstanding the general labour market improvements in many OECD countries in recent years. SERVICE EMPLOYMENT has continued to grow in OECD countries, approaching three-quarters of all jobs in several countries by the end of the 1990s. While the overall service-sector share of employment has tended to become more similar across countries, significant differences remain and convergence is weaker for the mix of employment across disaggregated service activities. Despite services having accounted for virtually all recent gains in employment, it does not appear that the countries most specialised in the fastest growing services have benefited from a large boost to overall employment growth. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS shows that legislation specifies that unemployment benefits are paid only to people who are out of work through no fault of their own, and are able to work, available for work and willing to work. But what does this mean, in practice? Are the unemployed obliged to search for work themselves? Are they directed to apply for vacant jobs and sanctioned if they refuse a job offer? Benefit eligibility conditions in a number of OECD countries and surveys evidence about their impact on unemployment are examined. SELF-EMPLOYMENT is showing some signs of renaissance: for the OECD area as a whole; it has grown faster than the rest of employment. Much of the increase is probably due to changes in industrial organisation, new business opportunities opening up and increased government support. Part of it may simply reflect moves to avoid taxation. The working conditions of the self-employed are, on average, not as good as those of employees, but their reported job satisfaction is higher.

Page Count: 234 Figure Count: 69 Table Count: 73
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Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: June 1, 2000

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