Unemployment Rate

Unemployment Rate (in Table Form)

Jump to:

The unemployment rate has been tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics since 1948.

In the 1970’s, an era of high inflation and unemployment, Julius Shiskin, the Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was receiving criticism of the unemployment numbers because “the figures are used to gauge more than just joblessness”. For many, the unemployment numbers served as a yardstick for assessing the number of persons who experience some level of “financial
hardship”.  In response, he developed a range of unemployment indicators known as U-1
through U-7.

This change allowed the BLS to set the official unemployment rate as U3 which was a much lower number than the U6 which would include all unemployed persons.

  • U1: Percentage of labor force unemployed 15 weeks or longer.
  • U2: Percentage of labor force who lost jobs or completed temporary work.
  • U3: Is the Official unemployment rate which occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively looked for work within the past four weeks.
  • U4: U3 + “discouraged workers“, or those who have stopped looking for work because current economic conditions make them believe that no work is available for them.
  • U5: U4 + other “marginally attached workers”, or “loosely attached workers”, or those who “would like” and are able to work, but have not looked for work recently.
  • U6: U5 + Part-time workers who want to work full-time, but cannot due to economic reasons (underemployment).

Then in 1994, according to Shadowstats the government really began underestimating unemployment by  defining “long-term discouraged workers out of official existence.” The new U-6 numbers only include short-term discouraged workers.

See Also:   Job Growth Stalls, Labor Participation at 38-Year Low

In addition to the various “U” categories the BLS also maintains Unadjusted and Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment numbers.

For more information See:  How The Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate compares to the Unadjusted Rate.

Unadjusted Unemployment Rates

This table shows Unadjusted U-3 Monthly Unemployment Rates from 1948 through the present:

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2016 5.3% 5.2% 5.1% 4.7% 4.5%
2015 6.1% 5.8% 5.6% 5.1% 5.3% 5.5% 5.6% 5.2% 4.9% 4.8% 4.8% 4.8%
2014 7.0% 7.0% 6.8% 5.9% 6.1% 6.3% 6.5% 6.3% 5.7% 5.5% 5.5% 5.4%
2013 8.5% 8.1% 7.6% 7.1% 7.3% 7.8% 7.7% 7.3% 7.0% 7.0% 6.6% 6.5%
2012 8.8% 8.7% 8.4% 7.7% 7.9% 8.4% 8.6% 8.2% 7.6% 7.5% 7.4% 7.6%
2011 9.8% 9.5% 9.2% 8.7% 8.7% 9.3% 9.3% 9.1% 8.8% 8.5% 8.2% 8.3%
2010 10.6% 10.4% 10.2% 9.5% 9.3% 9.6% 9.7% 9.5% 9.2% 9.0% 9.3% 9.1%
2009 8.5% 8.9% 9.0% 8.6% 9.1% 9.7% 9.7% 9.6% 9.5% 9.5% 9.4% 9.7%
2008 5.4% 5.2% 5.2% 4.8% 5.2% 5.7% 6.0% 6.1% 6.0% 6.1% 6.5% 7.1%
2007 5.0% 4.9% 4.5% 4.3% 4.3% 4.7% 4.9% 4.6% 4.5% 4.4% 4.5% 4.8%
2006 5.1% 5.1% 4.8% 4.5% 4.4% 4.8% 5.0% 4.6% 4.4% 4.1% 4.3% 4.3%
2005 5.7% 5.8% 5.4% 4.9% 4.9% 5.2% 5.2% 4.9% 4.8% 4.6% 4.8% 4.6%
2004 6.3% 6.0% 6.0% 5.4% 5.3% 5.8% 5.7% 5.4% 5.1% 5.1% 5.2% 5.1%
2003 6.5% 6.4% 6.2% 5.8% 5.8% 6.5% 6.3% 6.0% 5.8% 5.6% 5.6% 5.4%
2002 6.3% 6.1% 6.1% 5.7% 5.5% 6.0% 5.9% 5.7% 5.4% 5.3% 5.6% 5.7%
2001 4.7% 4.6% 4.5% 4.2% 4.1% 4.7% 4.7% 4.9% 4.7% 5.0% 5.3% 5.4%
2000 4.5% 4.4% 4.3% 3.7% 3.8% 4.1% 4.2% 4.1% 3.8% 3.6% 3.7% 3.7%
1999 4.8% 4.7% 4.4% 4.1% 4.0% 4.5% 4.5% 4.2% 4.1% 3.8% 3.8% 3.7%
1998 5.2% 5.0% 5.0% 4.1% 4.2% 4.7% 4.7% 4.5% 4.4% 4.2% 4.1% 4.0%
1997 5.9% 5.7% 5.5% 4.8% 4.7% 5.2% 5.0% 4.8% 4.7% 4.4% 4.3% 4.4%
1996 6.3% 6.0% 5.8% 5.4% 5.4% 5.5% 5.6% 5.1% 5.0% 4.9% 5.0% 5.0%
1995 6.2% 5.9% 5.7% 5.6% 5.5% 5.8% 5.9% 5.6% 5.4% 5.2% 5.3% 5.2%
1994 7.3% 7.1% 6.8% 6.2% 5.9% 6.2% 6.2% 5.9% 5.6% 5.4% 5.3% 5.1%
1993 8.0% 7.8% 7.4% 6.9% 6.8% 7.2% 7.0% 6.6% 6.4% 6.4% 6.2% 6.1%
1992 8.1% 8.2% 7.8% 7.2% 7.3% 8.0% 7.7% 7.4% 7.3% 6.9% 7.1% 7.1%
1991 7.1% 7.3% 7.2% 6.5% 6.7% 7.0% 6.8% 6.6% 6.5% 6.5% 6.7% 6.9%
1990 6.0% 5.9% 5.5% 5.3% 5.2% 5.4% 5.6% 5.5% 5.6% 5.5% 5.9% 6.0%
1989 6.0% 5.6% 5.2% 5.1% 5.0% 5.5% 5.3% 5.1% 5.1% 5.0% 5.2% 5.1%
1988 6.3% 6.2% 5.9% 5.3% 5.4% 5.5% 5.5% 5.4% 5.2% 5.0% 5.2% 5.0%
1987 7.3% 7.2% 6.9% 6.2% 6.1% 6.3% 6.1% 5.8% 5.7% 5.7% 5.6% 5.4%
1986 7.3% 7.8% 7.5% 7.0% 7.0% 7.3% 7.0% 6.7% 6.8% 6.6% 6.6% 6.3%
1985 8.0% 7.8% 7.5% 7.1% 7.0% 7.5% 7.4% 6.9% 6.9% 6.8% 6.7% 6.7%
1984 8.8% 8.4% 8.1% 7.6% 7.2% 7.4% 7.5% 7.3% 7.1% 7.0% 6.9% 7.0%
1983 11.4% 11.3% 10.8% 10.0% 9.8% 10.2% 9.4% 9.2% 8.8% 8.4% 8.1% 8.0%
1982 9.4% 9.6% 9.5% 9.2% 9.1% 9.8% 9.8% 9.6% 9.7% 9.9% 10.4% 10.5%
1981 8.2% 8.0% 7.7% 7.0% 7.1% 7.7% 7.3% 7.2% 7.3% 7.5% 7.9% 8.3%
1980 6.9% 6.8% 6.6% 6.7% 7.1% 7.8% 7.9% 7.6% 7.2% 7.1% 7.1% 6.9%
1979 6.4% 6.4% 6.1% 5.5% 5.2% 6.0% 5.9% 5.9% 5.7% 5.6% 5.6% 5.7%
1978 7.1% 6.9% 6.6% 5.8% 5.5% 6.2% 6.3% 5.9% 5.8% 5.4% 5.6% 5.7%
1977 8.3% 8.5% 7.9% 6.9% 6.4% 7.5% 7.0% 6.8% 6.6% 6.4% 6.5% 6.0%
1976 8.8% 8.7% 8.1% 7.4% 6.8% 8.0% 7.8% 7.6% 7.4% 7.2% 7.4% 7.4%
1975 9.0% 9.1% 9.1% 8.6% 8.3% 9.1% 8.7% 8.2% 8.1% 7.8% 7.8% 7.8%
1974 5.7% 5.8% 5.3% 4.8% 4.6% 5.8% 5.7% 5.3% 5.7% 5.5% 6.2% 6.7%
1973 5.5% 5.6% 5.2% 4.8% 4.4% 5.4% 5.0% 4.7% 4.7% 4.2% 4.6% 4.6%
1972 6.5% 6.4% 6.1% 5.5% 5.1% 6.2% 5.9% 5.5% 5.4% 5.1% 4.9% 4.8%
1971 6.6% 6.6% 6.3% 5.7% 5.3% 6.5% 6.2% 5.9% 5.8% 5.4% 5.7% 5.5%
1970 4.2% 4.7% 4.6% 4.3% 4.1% 5.6% 5.3% 5.0% 5.2% 5.1% 5.5% 5.6%
1969 3.7% 3.7% 3.5% 3.2% 2.9% 4.1% 3.8% 3.5% 3.7% 3.5% 3.3% 3.2%
1968 4.0% 4.2% 3.8% 3.2% 2.9% 4.5% 4.0% 3.5% 3.3% 3.2% 3.3% 3.1%
1967 4.2% 4.2% 3.9% 3.5% 3.2% 4.6% 4.1% 3.7% 3.7% 3.8% 3.7% 3.5%
1966 4.4% 4.2% 4.0% 3.6% 3.7% 4.6% 3.9% 3.6% 3.3% 3.2% 3.4% 3.5%
1965 5.5% 5.7% 5.1% 4.7% 4.3% 5.3% 4.5% 4.2% 3.8% 3.6% 3.9% 3.7%
1964 6.4% 6.2% 5.9% 5.3% 4.8% 5.9% 4.9% 4.8% 4.5% 4.4% 4.5% 4.7%
1963 6.6% 6.9% 6.3% 5.6% 5.5% 6.2% 5.6% 5.2% 4.8% 4.7% 5.3% 5.3%
1962 6.7% 6.5% 6.2% 5.5% 5.1% 5.9% 5.3% 5.3% 4.9% 4.5% 5.3% 5.3%
1961 7.7% 8.1% 7.7% 7.0% 6.6% 7.3% 6.9% 6.2% 5.8% 5.5% 5.6% 5.8%
1960 6.1% 5.7% 6.1% 5.2% 4.8% 5.8% 5.5% 5.2% 4.7% 5.0% 5.6% 6.4%
1959 7.0% 7.0% 6.4% 5.2% 4.9% 5.4% 5.2% 4.8% 4.7% 4.7% 5.3% 5.1%
1958 6.8% 7.7% 7.7% 7.5% 7.1% 7.6% 7.4% 6.7% 6.0% 5.5% 5.6% 6.0%
1957 4.9% 4.7% 4.3% 4.0% 3.9% 4.6% 4.1% 3.7% 3.7% 3.6% 4.6% 5.0%
1956 4.7% 4.8% 4.7% 4.1% 4.2% 4.7% 4.4% 3.7% 3.4% 3.1% 3.9% 4.0%
1955 5.8% 5.7% 5.2% 4.9% 4.2% 4.4% 4.0% 3.8% 3.5% 3.4% 3.8% 3.9%
1954 5.7% 6.3% 6.4% 6.1% 5.7% 5.7% 5.7% 5.4% 5.3% 4.6% 4.9% 4.8%
1953 3.4% 3.2% 2.9% 2.8% 2.5% 2.7% 2.7% 2.4% 2.6% 2.5% 3.2% 4.2%
1952 3.7% 3.8% 3.3% 3.0% 2.9% 3.2% 3.3% 3.1% 2.7% 2.4% 2.5% 2.5%
1951 4.4% 4.2% 3.8% 3.2% 2.9% 3.4% 3.3% 2.9% 3.0% 2.8% 3.2% 2.9%
1950 7.6% 7.9% 7.1% 6.0% 5.3% 5.6% 5.3% 4.1% 4.0% 3.3% 3.8% 3.9%
1949 5.0% 5.8% 5.6% 5.4% 5.7% 6.4% 7.0% 6.3% 5.9% 6.1% 5.7% 6.0%
1948 4.0% 4.7% 4.5% 4.0% 3.4% 3.9% 3.9% 3.6% 3.4% 2.9% 3.3% 3.6%

 

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment

This table shows Seasonally Adjusted U-3 Monthly Unemployment Rates from 1948 through the present:

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2016 4.9% 4.9% 5.0% 5.0% 4.7% NA NA NA NA NA NA NA
2015 5.7% 5.5% 5.5%  5.4%  5.5% 5.3%  5.3% 5.1% 5.1%  5.0% 5.0%  5.0%
2014 6.6% 6.7% 6.7% 6.3%  6.3% 6.1% 6.2% 6.1% 5.9% 5.8% 5.8% 5.6%
2013 7.9% 7.7% 7.6% 7.5% 7.6% 7.6% 7.4% 7.3% 7.2% 7.3% 7.0% 6.7%
2012 8.3% 8.3% 8.2% 8.1% 8.2% 8.2% 8.3% 8.1% 7.8% 7.9% 7.8% 7.8%
2011 9.0% 9.0% 8.9% 9.0% 9.0% 9.1% 9.1% 9.1% 9.0% 8.9% 8.7% 8.5%
2010 9.0% 9.7% 9.7% 9.8% 9.6% 9.5% 9.5% 9.6% 9.6% 9.7% 9.8% 9.4%
2009 7.0% 8.2% 8.6% 8.9% 9.4% 9.5% 9.5% 9.7% 9.8% 10.1% 9.9% 9.9%
2008 5.0% 4.8% 5.1% 4.9% 5.4% 5.6% 5.8% 6.1% 6.2% 6.6% 6.8% 7.3%
2007 4.0% 4.5% 4.4% 4.5% 4.4% 4.6% 4.7% 4.6% 4.7% 4.7% 4.7% 5.0%
2006 4.0% 4.8% 4.7% 4.7% 4.6% 4.6% 4.7% 4.7% 4.5% 4.4% 4.5% 4.4%
2005 5.3% 5.4% 5.2% 5.2% 5.1% 5.0% 5.0% 4.9% 5.0% 5.0% 5.0% 4.9%
2004 5.7% 5.6% 5.8% 5.6% 5.6% 5.6% 5.5% 5.4% 5.4% 5.5% 5.4% 5.4%
2003 5.8% 5.9% 5.9% 6.0% 6.1% 6.3% 6.2% 6.1% 6.1% 6.0% 5.8% 5.7%
2002 5.7% 5.7% 5.7% 5.9% 5.8% 5.8% 5.8% 5.7% 5.7% 5.7% 5.9% 6.0%
2001 4.2% 4.2% 4.3% 4.4% 4.3% 4.5% 4.6% 4.9% 5.0% 5.3% 5.5% 5.7%
2000 4.0% 4.1% 4.0% 3.8% 4.0% 4.0% 4.0% 4.1% 3.9% 3.9% 3.9% 3.9%
1999 4.3% 4.4% 4.2% 4.3% 4.2% 4.3% 4.3% 4.2% 4.2% 4.1% 4.1% 4.0%
1998 4.6% 4.6% 4.7% 4.3% 4.4% 4.5% 4.5% 4.5% 4.6% 4.5% 4.40 4.4%
1997 5.3% 5.2% 5.2% 5.1% 4.9% 5.0% 4.9% 4.8% 4.9% 4.7% 4.6% 4.7%
1996 5.6% 5.5% 5.5% 5.6% 5.6% 5.3% 5.5% 5.1% 5.2% 5.2% 5.4% 5.4%
1995 5.6% 5.4% 5.4% 5.8% 5.6% 5.6% 5.7% 5.7% 5.6% 5.5% 5.6% 5.6%
1994 6.6% 6.6% 6.5% 6.4% 6.1% 6.1% 6.1% 6.0% 5.9% 5.8% 5.6% 5.5%
1993 7.3% 7.1% 7.0% 7.1% 7.1% 7.0% 6.9% 6.8% 6.7% 6.8% 6.6% 6.5%
1992 7.3% 7.4% 7.4% 7.4% 7.6% 7.8% 7.7% 7.6% 7.6% 7.3% 7.4% 7.4%
1991 6.4% 6.6% 6.8% 6.7% 6.9% 6.9% 6.8% 6.9% 6.9% 7.0% 7.0% 7.3%
1990 5.4% 5.3% 5.2% 5.4% 5.4% 5.2% 5.5% 5.7% 5.9% 5.9% 6.2% 6.3%
1989 5.4% 5.2% 5.0% 5.2% 5.2% 5.3% 5.2% 5.2% 5.3% 5.3% 5.4% 5.4%
1988 5.7% 5.7% 5.7% 5.40% 5.6% 5.4% 5.4% 5.6% 5.4% 5.4% 5.3% 5.3%
1987 6.6% 6.6% 6.6% 6.3% 6.3% 6.2% 6.1% 6.0% 5.9% 6.0% 5.8% 5.7%
1986 6.7% 7.2% 7.2% 7.1% 7.2% 7.2% 7.0% 6.9% 7.0% 7.0% 6.9% 6.6%
1985 7.3% 7.2% 7.2% 7.3% 7.2% 7.4% 7.4% 7.1% 7.1% 7.1% 7.0% 7.0%
1984 8.0% 7.8% 7.8% 7.7% 7.4% 7.2% 7.5% 7.5% 7.3% 7.4% 7.2% 7.3%
1983 10.4% 10.4% 10.3% 10.2% 10.1% 10.1% 9.4% 9.5% 9.2% 8.8% 8.50 8.3%
1982 8.6% 8.9% 9.0% 9.3% 9.4% 9.6% 9.8% 9.8% 10.1% 10.4% 10.8% 10.8%
1981 7.5% 7.4% 7.4% 7.2% 7.5% 7.5% 7.2% 7.4% 7.6% 7.9% 8.3% 8.5%
1980 6.3% 6.3% 6.3% 6.9% 7.5% 7.6% 7.8% 7.7% 7.5% 7.5% 7.5% 7.2%
1979 5.9% 5.9% 5.8% 5.8% 5.6% 5.7% 5.7% 6.0% 5.9% 6.0% 5.9% 6.0%
1978 6.4% 6.3% 6.3% 6.1% 6.0% 5.9% 6.2% 5.9% 6.0% 5.8% 5.9% 6.0%
1977 7.5% 7.6% 7.4% 7.2% 7.0% 7.2% 6.9% 7.0% 6.8% 6.8% 6.8% 6.4%
1976 7.9% 7.7% 7.6% 7.7% 7.4% 7.6% 7.8% 7.8% 7.6% 7.7% 7.8% 7.8%
1975 8.1% 8.1% 8.6% 8.8% 9.0% 8.8% 8.6% 8.4% 8.4% 8.4% 8.3% 8.2%
1974 5.1% 5.2% 5.1% 5.1% 5.1% 5.4% 5.5% 5.5% 5.9% 6.0% 6.6% 7.2%
1973 4.9% 5.0% 4.9% 5.0% 4.9% 4.9% 4.8% 4.8% 4.8% 4.6% 4.8% 4.9%
1972 5.8% 5.7% 5.8% 5.7% 5.7% 5.7% 5.6% 5.6% 5.5% 5.6% 5.3% 5.2%
1971 5.9% 5.9% 6.0% 5.9% 5.9% 5.9% 6.0% 6.1% 6.0% 5.8% 6.0% 6.0%
1970 3.9% 4.2% 4.4% 4.6% 4.8% 4.9% 5.0% 5.1% 5.4% 5.5% 5.9% 6.1%
1969 3.4% 3.4% 3.4% 3.4% 3.4% 3.5% 3.5% 3.5% 3.7% 3.7% 3.5% 3.5%
1968 3.7% 3.8% 3.7% 3.5% 3.5% 3.7% 3.7% 3.5% 3.4% 3.4% 3.4% 3.4%
1967 3.9% 3.8% 3.8% 3.8% 3.8% 3.9% 3.8% 3.8% 3.8% 4.0% 3.9% 3.8%
1966 4.0% 3.8% 3.8% 3.8% 3.9% 3.8% 3.8% 3.8% 3.7% 3.7% 3.6% 3.8%
1965 4.9% 5.1% 4.7% 4.8% 4.6% 4.6% 4.4% 4.4% 4.3% 4.2% 4.1% 4.0%
1964 5.6% 5.4% 5.4% 5.3% 5.1% 5.2% 4.9% 5.0% 5.1% 5.1% 4.8% 5.0%
1963 5.7% 5.9% 5.7% 5.7% 5.9% 5.6% 5.6% 5.4% 5.5% 5.5% 5.7% 5.5%
1962 5.8% 5.5% 5.6% 5.6% 5.5% 5.5% 5.4% 5.7% 5.6% 5.4% 5.7% 5.5%
1961 6.6% 6.9% 6.9% 7.0% 7.1% 6.9% 7.0% 6.6% 6.7% 6.5% 6.1% 6.0%
1960 5.2% 4.8% 5.4% 5.2% 5.1% 5.4% 5.5% 5.6% 5.5% 6.1% 6.1% 6.6%
1959 6.0% 5.9% 5.6% 5.2% 5.1% 5.0% 5.1% 5.2% 5.5% 5.7% 5.8% 5.3%
1958 5.8% 6.4% 6.7% 7.4% 7.4% 7.3% 7.5% 7.4% 7.1% 6.7% 6.2% 6.2%
1957 4.2% 3.9% 3.7% 3.9% 4.1% 4.3% 4.2% 4.1% 4.4% 4.5% 5.1% 5.2%
1956 4.0% 3.9% 4.2% 4.0% 4.3% 4.3% 4.4% 4.1% 3.9% 3.9% 4.3% 4.2%
1955 4.9% 4.7% 4.6% 4.7% 4.3% 4.2% 4.0% 4.2% 4.1% 4.3% 4.2% 4.2%
1954 4.9% 5.2% 5.7% 5.9% 5.9% 5.6% 5.8% 6.0% 6.1% 5.7% 5.3% 5.0%
1953 2.9% 2.6% 2.6% 2.7% 2.5% 2.5% 2.6% 2.7% 2.9% 3.1% 3.5% 4.5%
1952 3.2% 3.1% 2.9% 2.9% 3.0% 3.0% 3.2% 3.4% 3.1% 3.0% 2.8% 2.7%
1951 3.7% 3.4% 3.4% 3.1% 3.0% 3.2% 3.1% 3.1% 3.3% 3.5% 3.5% 3.1%
1950 6.5% 6.4% 6.3% 5.8% 5.5% 5.4% 5.0% 4.5% 4.4% 4.2% 4.2% 4.3%
1949 4.3% 4.7% 5.0% 5.3% 6.1% 6.2% 6.7% 6.8% 6.6% 7.9% 6.4% 6.6%
1948 3.4% 3.8% 4.0% 3.9% 3.5% 3.6% 3.6% 3.9% 3.8% 3.7% 3.8% 4.0%

For more information on the other measurements of the Unemployment rate see: What is U-6 Unemployment? The unemployment rate is not as accurate as the Current Employment Data in determining how many people are actually employed.

 

How the Unemployment Rate is Determined

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the all important “Unemployment Rate” is based on a survey called the Current Population Survey (CPS). The government calls up 60,000 households every month and then estimates the unemployment rate based on that sample.

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate

Photo of a sculpture at the FDR Memorial by
Woodley Wonder Works depicting the unemployed men during the Great Depression.

See Current Unemployment Rate for more information.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Seasonally Adjusted UnEmployment Rate

Speak Your Mind

*