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The OECD area employment rate – the share of the working-age population with jobs – increased by 0.1 percentage point in the fourth quarter of 2018, to 68.6%. Compared to the previous quarter, the employment rate increased in 26 out of 36 OECD countries. Across the OECD area, 571 million people were employed in the fourth quarter of 2018.

In the euro area, the employment rate continued to increase in the fourth quarter of 2018, by 0.2 percentage point to 67.6%. Increases of 0.6 percentage point or more were recorded in Estonia, Luxembourg, Finland and Slovenia. Declines in the employment rate were only reported for Latvia (down 0.6 percentage point),Lithuania (down 0.6 percentage point) and Portugal (down 0.1 percentage point).

Outside the euro area, the employment rate increased by 0.4 percentage point in the United Kingdom, and by 0.3 percentage point in Canada, the Czech Republic,Hungary, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United States. On the other hand, the employment rate declined by 1.0 percentage point in New Zealand and by 0.6 percentage point in Turkey.

When compared to the same quarter a year ago, the gain in the OECD area employment rate (up 0.6 percentage point) mainly reflects higher labour force participation rates and, to a lesser extent, a fall in the unemployment rate. In the euro area, the increase in the employment rate (up 0.8 percentage point, compared to the fourth quarter of 2017) is mainly related to lower unemployment, but with quite significant differences across countries. The strong increases in employment rates in Lithuania and Luxembourg primarily reflect higher labour force participation rate, while in Finland, Greece and the Slovak Republic, they are predominantly related to lower unemployment. In Japan and the United States, the increase in the employment rate reflects an increase in the labour force participation rate, while in the United Kingdom, the contributions of unemployment and labour force participation to changes in the employment rate are more or less equal.