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Global unemployment rate is 7%, survey finds

The U.S. ranks in the middle of the pack, Gallup says, based on data from 2009 and 2010.

January 20, 2011|By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Washington — About 7% of the world's workforce is unemployed while 40% have stable jobs with a full-time employer, according to a new report from Gallup.

The data released Wednesday came from Gallup surveys conducted in 129 countries and regions in 2009 and 2010, and represent the first results from an initiative by the public opinion firm to look at global employment.

The United Nations reported about a year ago that unemployment worldwide was at 6.6% and there were a record 212 million people out of work.

Gallup determined the percentage of people who were unemployed, underemployed or working full time for an employer and presented the data in an interactive map.

Gallup said the full-time employment category was an important indicator. Some developing countries have relatively low unemployment rates — Chad in Africa, for example, has a rate of less than 5% — but that's because many people are self-employed in subsistence jobs.

Countries with a higher percentage of people working full time for an employer tend to have higher per capita economic output, Gallup said.

Regionally, sub-Saharan Africa has the smallest percentage of its workforce employed full time for an employer, just 19%. The region with the highest percentage — 59% — comprises the nations of the former Soviet Union. The United States has more than 50% working full-time for employers, and the worldwide figure is 40%.

As for unemployment, the United States is roughly in the middle of the pack, based on survey results that are not completely up to date. The U.S. is listed as having an unemployment rate of 10% to 14%, though the actual rate according to government data fell to 9.4% in December.

Countries were placed in four categories based on ranges of rates for the employment measures. Eighteen nations are in the worst category for unemployment, with rates of 15% or higher. The U.S. is in the second-worst category, along with countries such as Afghanistan, Brazil, Greece and Mexico.

China is in a group of about two dozen countries with unemployment rates of 5% or less.

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