The international perspective on U.S. unemployment

People wait in line at a government employment office in the Cruz Roja suburb of Sevilla on January 27, 2012. What do people in Europe think of the unemployment situation here in the U.S.?

Stacey Vanek Smith: A bit later this morning, we get U.S. unemployment numbers for February. Last month, they were encouraging -- the jobless rate was 8.3 percent. And we're not the only ones watching the number this morning.

And now for the global perspective on business and economics -- and us, we turn to Andrew Walker, the BBC's economics correspondent. Good morning, Andrew.

Andrew Walker: Good morning, Stacey.

Smith: So, today's jobs report will give us an update on the unemployment rate; currently 8.3 percent of Americans are unemployed. Tell us, if you will, how the U.S. compares to the rest of the world.

Walker: The U.S. is actually very close to the average for developed economies -- that's the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The most recent figure for the unemployment rate overall -- December last year -- is 8.2 percent.

There's quite a lot of variation around that average, though, of course. South Korea: 3.1 percent, that's the lowest; Japan, a little bit more than that. And the worst in this group of countries is Spain, where it's flirting with a level of 23 percent.

Smith: Here in the U.S., we have come to feel like our economic recovery's stuck in neutral a little bit. Gas prices have started to scare people. How is does the rest of the world see the U.S. economy right now?

Walker: Well, in financial markets, and among business communities, I think there's a degree of relief that there have been some signs of slightly stronger life in the U.S. recovery in the last few months.

I think I have to say, for the guy or the woman on the street in Europe, they would love to have a recovery like the U.S. has got at the moment, because if you look at what happened at the end of last year -- the eurozone economy in particular contracted significantly.

There was a little bit of an acceleration in growth in the United States, and I think Europeans would love to share that experience if only they could.

Smith: The BBC's economics correspondent Andrew Walker. Andrew, thank you.

Walker: My pleasure.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.


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