I have a few question about the employment rate. I'm sure there are different definition but maybe there is a general UN or OECD definition which can be used. I'm interested in precisely how it is defined, and does it differ from country to country when comparing statistics for OECD nations. My rough understanding is that it's the ratio of those employed to the working age population (15 to 64 - I think the US definition is 16-65 though).

Note: This question is about the Employment Rate, not the Unemployment Rate. They are not compliments of one another. For example, a country can have a 65% employment ratio and only a 5% unemployment ratio.

Employment ratio = # of employed people / working age population
Unemployment ratio = # of people looking for work / labor force
Employment ratio is not equal to 1 - unemployment ratio

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  • I believe the definition varies from country to country.
    – user1530
    Jun 21, 2013 at 15:15
  • Many countries use a definition that's very close to the OECD or UN definition.
    – user1840
    Jun 21, 2013 at 15:17
  • Note that the number of people "looking for work" is a statistic which governments like to play with and cook. For example: In Israel, if you don't to the unemployment bureau each week, you don't count. Why would anyone report there at all? For unemployment benefits eligibility (yes, it's horrendous). But after a while those run out, so people stop showing up - and are considered to be "not unemployed". In fact, the official Israeli state definition of unemployed is "reports regularly to the unemployment bureau".
    – einpoklum
    Oct 4, 2017 at 18:03

1 Answer 1


Your rough understanding is exactly the definition OECD provides in their Glossary of Statistical Terms:

Employment rate represent persons in employment as a percentage of the population of working age (15- 64 years).

For OECD's definition of "persons in employment", see: How is an employed person defined for OECD countries?

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