Conservative commentators frequently claim that the structure of the American labor market produces rates of unemployment that are exceptionally lower than those found in other advanced economies. That claim, however, is a misleading one due to variations in how unemployment rates are calculated and an omission of quality-of-life differences.
Even if the argument were true, a new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research concludes that “the current economic crisis, however, has turned the case for the U.S. model almost entirely on its head.” The report shows that the U.S. now has the fourth-highest standardized unemployment rate among major industrial nations. Moreover, only two nations — Spain and Ireland — have recorded larger changes in their unemployment rates.
The graph shows standardized unemployment rates and recessionary changes in 21 countries.