By Raj Vardhman | October 9, 2019 | 0 Comments

US Unemployment Statistics

The world economic crisis that happened in 2008 left millions without jobs. This article will show you some of the most important unemployment statistics, and you’ll see how the US managed to overcome the impact of the crisis on the labor force.

It looks like the last 10 years were a period of steady decline when it comes to unemployment rates. It is yet to be seen how the next decade will look like, especially when we take into account the emergence of autonomous machines. They will, without a doubt, put an end to some traditional professions. 

That’s the reason why it is necessary to study unemployment data. These chunks of information will hopefully shed light on the upcoming trends when it comes to unemployment, and help employers to better understand the labor force that is continuously changing.

The data in front of you has been gathered during the last two decades and the previous century. You’ll see that various political, economic, and social events can stir up the market and cause different consequences.

Why is The Unemployment Rate Important?

Before we dive into some interesting data about unemployment in the United States, we should understand how is unemployment defined. The unemployment rate is the amount of jobless US adults (aged 16 and above) divided by the number of people who have jobs in the civilian labor force.

This number is compiled monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and becomes public on the first Friday of every month. Unemployment rate calculation is important if we want to better understand such a cumbersome economy that we have in the United States.

Unemployment Statistics in The U.S – 2019

  • 3.7% of Americans are unemployed in 2019
  • 3.9% of Americans were unemployed in 2018
  • 24.9% of Americans were jobless in 1933
  • 1.2% were unemployed in 1944
  • 2.1% of Vermont citizens are without a job
  • 5 million Americans are not in the labor force
1. 3.7% of Americans are unemployed.

While looking at the unemployment rate of 2019, we can see that by the end of August, the number of people without a job is 3.7%. It looks like this number is becoming steady since the same percentage of people were unemployed during June and July. 

This number looks good if we take a look at January 2019, when the total amount of Americans without a job was 4%. Hopefully, these numbers will keep going down as the economy is overcoming tough years, and we’ll see even better unemployment data in 2020.

2. There are 132.16 million full-time employees in the United States.

The United States job market is definitely recovering from the 2008 crisis, and there are 132.16 million people with a full-time engagement, as August data suggests. This is an increase from August 2018, when there were 129.98 million people with a full-time job. 

As mentioned above, the international banking crisis hit the market, and unemployment went to 9.3% in 2009. This number shouldn’t be forgotten while we’re evaluating the US unemployment rate in 2019.

3. 3.9% of Americans were unemployed in 2018.

As you can see, there was a steady trend below 4% during the past few years. During 2018, these numbers were moving between 3.7% and 4.1%, which came to a median of 3.9% Americans that were jobless. 

The best month for unemployed was August 2018 with 3.7%, and a negative peak was during January and February, with a rate of 4.1%. The US unemployment rate in 2018 then started to decline, hitting 4% just one more time in June.

4. 3.2% of the population was unemployed in 1929.

The beginning of the 20th century transformed the world, and we have to thank the industrial revolution for this progress. New machines appeared, and people were in a position to produce more items in shorter periods of time. This change affected the job market, and new factories were filled with skilled workers.

Unemployment rates over time were in a steady decline since there were more job positions every day. This trend was peaking until 1929 when only 3.2% of American citizens were without a job. America started producing a variety of products such as cars, home appliances, weaponry, furniture, and investing in infrastructures such as roads and bridges.

Unfortunately, nobody was able to imagine what will bring the next decade. People were unprepared for the unemployment rate that would occur in years to come, starting with late 1929.

5. 24.9% of Americans were jobless in 1933.

The third decade of the 20th century was truly tough, and everything started with a stock market crash in October 1929. This event triggered panic among Wall Street brokers, and the whole market crashed like never before.

People didn’t only lose their jobs; they were left without their houses and other possessions. That’s why it wasn’t a surprise that the unemployment rate during the Great Depression peaked at a staggering 24.9% in 1933. 

6. 1.2% were unemployed in 1944.

The Great Depression shook the US job market, and this event wasn’t the end of bad things happening to the US and the rest of the world. Only 10 years after the Wall Street crash, the biggest war in human history took place.

The years of war, paradoxically, weren’t bad for the unemployed workers. As a matter of fact, the war industry offered plenty of job opportunities, and during 1944, the lowest unemployment rate in US history was recorded. The amount of unemployed was 1.2%, and this number never occurred again.

7. Unemployment went from 17.2% to 1.2% in 6 years.

As mentioned above, the Second World War was the biggest conflict in modern history, and world nations used their industry potential to produce war equipment. The military needed everything people could produce. While this period was difficult to survive, it is good to know that the unemployment rate by year was dropping.

During the period between 1939 and 1945 when the Second World War ended, unemployment in the US went from 17.2% to 1.2%, which was an all-time low. Again, this can be explained by the Army’s demand for equipment, food, and medication, but it can also be explained by the fact that women started to massively participate in the production.

8. 10.8% of people were jobless in 1982.

After the war has ended, the US unemployment rate took a steady course and never went over 10% until 1982, when the highest unemployment was recorded at 10.8%. The 1950s and 1960s had their recessions caused by different internal events in politics and economy, but somehow the percentage of unemployed workers wasn’t going over two digits.

The recession of 1982 was stopped by president Reagan’s maneuver to increase military spending. Once again, the US economy was saved by the military industry. Unemployment stats went down again and were declining for almost 20 years.

9. 3.9% of US citizens were unemployed in 2000.

As said above, the last two decades of the 20th century were pretty stable when it comes to unemployment, and Americans were expecting to enter the 21st century with all times low. The reason for this belief was the fact that another revolution was happening, and it was the informational this time. 

Spreading of the internet affected unemployment in a positive way, and people started communicating and taking care of business partners around the globe. It was the first time in human history that was possible to work and chat with someone in real-time, regardless of their geographical location.

10. 5.7% were unemployed by 2001.

Unfortunately, this positive trend was violently interrupted by a terrorist attack in 2001, when the US unemployment rate nearly doubled and achieved 5.7%. The American government was forced to intervene with tax cuts, and that’s the reason for this jump in the number of jobless people.

11. 6% was the unemployment percentage in 2002.

The very next year recorded another increase in unemployment percentage, which stopped at 6%. This was the consequence of the 9/11 attacks and the US declaration of war on terror. As already explained, the next change that was worth mentioning happened six years later, when unemployment stats went up once again, now as a consequence of the global economic crisis.

12. 20.6% of the unemployed are jobless for six months.

There are different categories of unemployed people, and those who haven’t worked for a while should be listed as “real unemployed.” The total amount of people who weren’t working for 27 weeks or more is 20.6% of all unemployed in the United States, which is around 1.2 million American citizens. 

This number is also steady as the overall national unemployment rate in the past couple of months.

13. 4.4 million people are working part-time.

Unfortunately, a lot of people in the United States want to work full-time, but the economy isn’t strong enough to employ all of them. That’s the reason why 4.4 million Americans are forced to work as much as they can and accept part-time positions.

On the other hand, there is a substantial group of younger people, usually recognized as millennials, who are willingly working part-time and contributing to the current unemployment rate

People born between 1980 and 2000 don’t really like stable full-time jobs and are often deciding to work for some time and then enjoy what they’ve earned, traveling and not working.

14. There were 467,000 discouraged workers in August 2019.

While there are people who are eager to accept any job offer they can, there’s a certain amount of United States citizens who think that the job market is not offering anything that suits them. 

That’s why unemployment statistics show a couple of hundred thousand jobless people who gave up on looking for a job. The number measured in August 2019 was 467,000, and that’s a similar amount of discouraged workers recorded in 2018.

15. 12.6% of teenagers are not working.

Among the major worker groups, it looks like teenagers are struggling the most since 12.6% of them are currently unemployed. This number is much higher than the unemployment percentage of adult men (3.4%), and adult women (3.3%).

16. 5.5% of African Americans are jobless.

Among other major worker groups, we can see that the highest percentage of unemployed is in the African American population, which is currently at 5.5%. They’re followed by Hispanics who are at 4.2%, Caucasians at 3.4%, and Asian Americans who are at 2.8%.

17. 6.3% of people are unemployed in Alaska.

Every US unemployment rate graph will show that the hardest state to land a job is Alaska, where the total amount of unemployed people is 6.3%. This is much higher than the average.

Next in line is District of Columbia with 5.6%, and the third place for unemployment goes to Mississippi, where 5.1% of people are jobless.

18. 2.1% of Vermont citizens are without a job.

On the other hand, the State of Vermont is the one where the jobless rate is the lowest and is at 2.1%. It is followed by North Dakota (2.4%), while Iowa and New Hampshire share third place with 2.5% of unemployed citizens.

All other states are recording average unemployment numbers and are close to current national rates around 3.7%, as of August 2019.

19. 5.4% of the unemployed have a lower education level than a high school diploma.

Some interesting data were presented in the Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment tables. They show that 5.4% of unemployed people have lower education level than a high school diploma. This high number can be explained by lower demand for unskilled workers. The number was recorded on August 2018 and peaked in March 2019.

20. 3.6% of people with a high school diploma are jobless.

Next in line are people whose last education level was achieved at high schools. Their average unemployment rate is similar to the national rate – 3.6%. During June 2019, this number went up to 3.9% and dropped back during the next month. This can be explained by the summer holidays when there’s a lower demand for this type of employees.

21. 3.1% of people with a college degree are without a job.

It looks like people with a higher level of education are getting jobs easier, and the number of 3.1% is proving this thesis. Unemployment statistics for people with college or associate degree were even better in May 2019, when there were only 2.8% of those workers without a job. Later that year, the numbers went a little bit higher.

22. 2.1% of Bachelors’ are unemployed in the US.

Another proof that education will eventually pay off is the low number of unemployed people who hold a Bachelor’s or higher degrees. Their number was 2.1% in August 2019, which is the same as the lowest US unemployment rate in history.

The number of highly educated people without a job was even lower in March 2019, with only 2.0% of unemployed people. The best time for highly educated workers was April 2000, when only 1.5% couldn’t lend the job.

23. There were 574,000 of new entrants in August 2019.

It was suggested before that the US economy is going through a fresh revolution, and the job market is changing more than ever. That’s why every US unemployment rate chart will show fluctuations that shouldn’t be ignored.

As a matter of fact, there are 574,000 of new entrants recorded in August 2019, which means that a lot of people are changing the industry they’re working on, probably due to higher demand in the IT sector. Among these people are also those who landed their first jobs recently.

24. 781.000 left their jobs in August 2019.

On the other hand, the number of those who decided to help in increasing the current unemployment rate in the US was even higher than the number of new entrants. The number of job leavers in August 2019 was 781.000, and that amount is approximately the same as it was for the said period in 2018 and 2017.

25. 2 million people lose jobs every month.

It may sound horrific when you hear that around 2 million people lose their jobs every month. We shouldn’t see this data as something tragic, though, since the unemployment rate in the USA is not affected by this fact in a negative way.

The reason for this thesis is that many of them are at the end of their careers, some of them probably decided to dedicate themselves to something else, and most of them will find new jobs in a matter of months. 

26. 2.2 million workers find a job within a month.

As suggested above, a high number of people losing a job is not a big deal as it might look at first sight. Labor Department jobs report unequivocally shows that there are more than 2 million unemployed who land a job in less than five weeks after they’ve lost the previous one.

27. 5 million workers are not in the labor force.

There are approximately 5 million US residents who want a job, but they’re not recognized as a labor force. This number hasn’t changed much in the past 20 years. During August 2019, there were 5.2 million unemployed who are not in the labor force, according to the US jobs report.

28. 5.6 million new jobs were created so far under Trump’s administration.

Electing Donald Trump for president came with a lot of controversies, but it is clear now that the US job market created 5.6 million new job positions during his presidency so far. This trend is following the one from 2010 when the US economy started recovering from the recession.

New jobs have been added for 105 consecutive months so far, including the first 29 months of the Trump administration. During Trump’s presidency, the unemployment rate continued going down and is stable at 3.7% for a longer period of time. The percentage of unemployed people when he was sworn in was 4.7%.

It should be mentioned that Trump’s monthly gain is 194.000 jobs, which is less than 217.000 recorded while Obama was serving the second term. This means that President Trump will need to pick up a pace if he wants to fulfill his campaign promises.

Employment Situation Summary

Based on everything we outlined above, it is obvious that the US economy has come out from the recession, and mostly recovered from the global financial crisis of 2008. There are new job positions opened daily, and it looks like everybody who wants a job will get one. 

Of course, that’s not the whole truth since there are many people willing to work but are not listed as a labor force.

In addition, we saw that unemployment rates varied historically and were tightly connected to politics, the needs of war, banking systems, and other factors. This means that every economy is as strong or as fragile as its society and its needs are. 

Fortunately, the United States economy was able to recover from much worse situations than it faced in 2008. We learned that the end of the Second World War was a time when Americans got organized. As a result, the employment rate exploded.

The unemployment statistics show that only 2.1% of people were unemployed that year, and the US economy has never come even close to 24.9% of the unemployed labor force from the Great Depression era.

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