Could Be Worse: We Could Have EU's Jobless Rate
The difference between the EU and USA?
In Europe, a 7.2% jobless rate is celebrated as an historical record low (see chart above).
In the U.S., a 6.0% unemployment rate in 2003 was condemned and criticized as a "jobless recovery" during the economic expansion that started at the end of 2001.
Bottom Line: In terms of unemployment rates, the U.S. economy, even during its worst years of recessionary labor market conditions like 2001-2003, is still better than the European economy during its best years.
Update: Some comments have suggested that unemployment rates are calculated differently in the U.S. and Europe, making a comparison misleading or invalid. Comparing the official German unemployment rates from EUROSTAT and the adjusted German unemployment rates from the BLS "approximating U.S. concepts," I agree that there might be a difference. But the official German jobless rates are actually LOWER than the rates adjusted to U.S. standards.
For example, the official rates for German unemployment from April-August 2007 are 8.5%, 8.5%, 8.4%, 8.4% and 8.3%, and the adjusted rates approximating U.S. concepts for the same months are 9.0%, 9.0%, 8.9%, 8.8% and 8.7%.
In other words, the German unemployment rates adjusted according to BLS standards are almost .50% HIGHER than the official rates. If that is the case for the rest of EU contries, the adjusted jobless rate for the EU might actually be higher than the official rate of 7.2%.