By Daniel Hunter

The OECD unemployment rate decreased to 7.9% in July 2013, compared with 8.0% in the previous month.

In the euro area, the unemployment rate was stable at 12.1% for the fifth successive month in July.

In July, the unemployment rate decreased in the United States (by 0.2 percentage point to 7.4%), Japan (by 0.1 percentage point to 3.8%) and Mexico (by 0.1 percentage point to 4.9%, the third consecutive decline), while it increased in Canada (by 0.1 percentage point to 7.2%). More recent data referring to the month of August show that the unemployment rate decreased by 0.1 percentage point in the United States (to 7.3%) and Canada (to 7.1%).

Trends in unemployment rates across OECD countries have diverged significantly since the beginning of the global financial crisis. In August 2013, unemployment rates were significantly below the peaks reached in the second half of 2009 in Canada and the United States (1.6 and 2.7 percentage points lower, respectively).

In July, the unemployment rate in Japan was close to its pre-crisis level while it was significantly below that level in Germany (2.1 percentage points lower). After a long period of increases, the unemployment rates declined in recent months in Italy (by 0.2 percentage point over the past two months, to 12.0%), Portugal (by 1.1 percentage points over the past five months, to 16.5%) and Spain (by 0.2 percentage point over the past 3 months, to 26.3%). By contrast, the unemployment rate reached a new peak in Belgium (at 8.9%), Greece (at 27.6% in May, the latest month available), and Netherlands (at 7.0%).

Overall, there were 47.9 million people unemployed in the OECD area in July 2013, 0.4 million less than in June, but still 13.2 million more than in July 2008.

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