U.S. Unemployment Rate Looks Good, Compared to Some Other Countries
I don't know how this was kept a secret for so long, but a newspaper in Namibia is reporting that the country had 51.2 percent unemployment in 2008. That's a far cry from the U.S. unemployment rate of 9.6 percent in August 2010, and even lower than some other countries.
Drops in agriculture, mining and manufacturing jobs in Namibia were blamed for the high unemployment, as were the recession and global warming. It took the government a year to verify the numbers and another year to release the report.
The worldwide unemployment rate was 8.7 percent in 2009, which is a good baseline to start from. The Central Intelligence Agency, which tracks and reports these statistics, notes that combined unemployment and underemployment in many non-industrialized countries is 30 percent using 2007 estimates, with developed countries typically having 4 percent to 12 percent unemployment.
Here are some of the more startling unemployment numbers from the CIA reports:
Zimbabwe: 95 percent in 2009, the CIA estimates. War, importing most of its food, hyperinflation and political instability caused some of its problems, although the Zimbabwe economy is growing for the first time in a decade.
Nepal: 46 percent in 2008. Almost a quarter of its population lives below the poverty line.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: 40 percent in 2009, although a gray economy may reduce it to 25-30 percent. The global financial meltdown hurt this country,
Gaza Strip: 40 percent in 2009, the CIA reports, with its neighbor the West Bank at 19 percent in 2009.
Kenya: 40 percent in 2008.
Macedonia: 32.2 percent in 2009. At least it has a stable economy and a sound financial system, according to the CIA.
Mauritania: 30 percent in 2008. Like many countries on this list, it's difficult to find on a map. It's near Senegal and Western Sahara, if that spurs anything from your high-school geography class.
Afghanistan: 35 percent in 2008. Decades of conflict have taken a toll.
Spain: 20.3 percent, pushing it just ahead of Latvia's 20.1 percent unemployment as the worst jobless rate in the European Union. A credit-fueled economy and a housing bust -- which should sound familiar to Americans -- are blamed for Spain's high unemployment.
That's an unofficial list of countries not to look for work in, based on 2008 statistics or better. The CIA's unemployment-rate list has some older data.
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Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area.