A look at unemployment rates in some of the world's major economies

Economic Indicators Associated Press

The latest jobs data in the United States showed that the world's biggest economy is strengthening steadily while others around the world are struggling.

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The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent in October, the lowest level since July 2008 and down from 7.2 percent a year earlier. Employers have now added at least 200,000 jobs for nine straight months — the longest such stretch since 1995.

By contrast, Europe is on the brink of its third recession in the past seven years, and growth in China and Japan has weakened. Though the unemployment rate isn't always the purest gauge of a job market's health, here's a look at some rates from elsewhere in the world.

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CHINA

July-September 2014 quarter: 4.1%

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July-September 2013 quarter: 4.1%

China's economic growth waned to a five-year low of 7.3 percent last quarter. But the state of China's job market is harder to discern. The official government jobless rate is widely considered unreliable. It's barely changed over the past several years, and it excludes the huge migrant worker population.

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JAPAN

September 2014: 3.5%

September 2013: 3.9%

The Bank of Japan surprised the financial world last week by intensifying its purchases of government bonds and other assets. By injecting more money into the economy, the government hopes to raise expectations of higher inflation and thereby encourage people to spend and fuel growth. Even during economic downturns, Japan generally has a lower unemployment rate compared with the U.S. and Europe. The rate has ranged between 3.5 percent and 3.8 percent this year.

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GERMANY

September 2014: 5.0%

September 2013: 5.2%

Germany's economy has been slowing, and business and consumer confidence has slid on concerns over the turmoil in Ukraine and elsewhere. Nonetheless, economists say indications are that the job market should remain solid, supporting consumer spending. This year, the unemployment rate has held steady around 5 percent.

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FRANCE

September 2014: 10.5%

September 2013: 10.3%

France's economic troubles mirror a broader lack of growth in Europe. The government has revised down its growth forecasts and says it will miss its deficit target for another three years. In September, it downgraded the country's growth figures yet again to 0.4 percent this year and 1 percent for next year, down from initial projections of 1.7 percent. The unemployment rate has stayed stubbornly above 10 percent for more than two years.

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EUROZONE

September 2014: 11.5%

September 2013: 12%

Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank, this week opened the door wider for further stimulus, saying the bank is laying the groundwork for new measures it could deploy if needed. The eurozone economy didn't grow at all in the second quarter, and inflation is a mere 0.4 percent. That's raised concerns that the bloc may fall into deflation, a sustained drop in prices that can encourage consumers to put off spending. The unemployment rate varies widely across Europe, with Germany recording the lowest level and Greece at more than 26 percent.

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BRAZIL

September 2014: 4.9%

September 2013: 5.4%

Brazil's economy fell into recession in the second quarter as millions of new middle class citizens tightened their belts and further dampened a credit-driven spending spree. Gross domestic product dropped 0.6 percent in the April-June period, in large part because of soft consumer spending. The labor market, however, has remained relatively robust. In her successful re-election campaign this year, President Dilma Rousseff touted her administration's efforts to protect jobs amid global economic weakness.

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Sources: Eurostat, U.S. Department of Labor, Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, China Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics.