30+ Startling Unemployment Statistics [Infographic]

Even the world’s greatest economies struggle with unemployment, including countries with a high life satisfaction index. In fact, unemployment statistics show that Denmark has an unemployment rate of 5.5%, which is the best country to live in, according to the index.

The United States isn’t exempt from this issue. Some parts of the country suffer more, while others are less affected. In the following 30+ fascinating statistics, we’ll analyze unemployment in America and compare it to the rest of the world by going through past and present data.

Let’s dive in.

Top Unemployment Facts and Stats (Editor’s Choice)

  • Unemployment in 1939 reached a rate of 17.2%
  • After the financial crisis, the 2009 rate of unemployment was 9.3%
  • Shockingly, 6.1 million Americans are unable to find work
  • 1.2 million Americans are affected by long-term unemployment
  • 10.2% is the unemployment rate in 2020 for people over the age of 16
  • Due to unemployment, 3.3 million Americans have filed insurance claims
  • Manufacturing workers amass 40.4 working hours every week
  • Qatar’s unemployment rate is 0.6%

US Unemployment Rate by Year

30+ Startling Unemployment Statistics [Infographic] 1

1. The unemployment rate in the US back in 1919 was 1.4%.

(Source: WISC)

Before the Great Depression, estimates show that just 1.4% of the US population who could work had no job opportunities come their way. However, this positive trend quickly worsened, and by the turn of 1920, it increased by almost four times. Come 1920, the rate stood at 5.2%, and the unemployment rate increased by year up to a shocking 11.7%.

However, things took a turn for the better in the United States, and it looked to continue that way until October 29, 1929. This was the start of the Great Depression — the deepest, longest, and darkest financial depression of the 20th century.

Let’s see what that looked like:

2. In 1929, the unemployment rate in the US was 3.2%.

(Source: The Balance)

According to these unemployment rates by year, everything was looking great for the US economy in 1929, until October 24. That’s when the stock market crashed, and the top 30 US companies lost over $30 billion in market value in just four days. This also led to millions of Americans losing their jobs and brought about the Great Depression that lasted throughout the 1930s.

3. The unemployment rate in the US in 1939 was 17.2%.

(Source: The Balance, Splicer, Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The unemployment rate during the Great Depression reached 25% (1933). Afterwards, it started reducing, bringing forth a huge relief to the nation. Amazingly, 1939 was also one of the few years in the last century with 0% inflation.

However, it was also the year when World War II started that the US joined two years later. The minimum wage during that year was $0.30 or $5.49 when adjusted for inflation.

4. In 1949, the unemployment rate in the US was 6.05%.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The lowest unemployment rate in US history was recorded in 1944 at just 1.2%. The reason behind it was World War II when close to 10% of the population was fighting overseas.

However, after the war, the United States recorded a negative GDP growth and inflation. Due to this, unemployment increased at just over 6%, with a minimum wage of $0.40 or equivalent to $4.34 in today’s economy.

5. The percentage of the US population that was without a job in 1959 was 5.4%.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Under Eisenhower, America was in a state of economic expansion after recovering from a slight recession in 1957. The average United States unemployment rate for the year was 5.4%, with the GDP growing by 6.9%, and inflation was at 1.8%.

As the population grew, so did the number of jobs available. Out of 68.3 million eligible workers, a whopping 64.6 million were employed.

6. The unemployment rate in the US in 1969 was 3.5%.

(Source: Trading Economics)

When Nixon took office in 1969, the country had one of the lowest unemployment rates in over 20 years. However, soon after, the unemployment rate in the US started climbing again a year later.

One of the most controversial presidents the US has ever seen managed to increase unemployment, exponentially, up to 6.1% by the end of 1970. The minimum wage at that time was $1.60, equivalent to $10.87 today.

7. In 1979, the unemployment rate was 5.85%.

(Source: Trading Economics)

Despite federal measures taken against inflation, the unemployment reached 9% in 1976. For the next three years, the percentage went down, and in 1979 the US unemployment rate steadied itself.

Jimmy Carter, who’s been ranked as the 7th worst president of all time, managed to stabilize unemployment, with a bouncing rate between 5.6% and 6% during those twelve months.

8. 1989’s unemployment rate was 5.4%.

(Source: The Balance, Splicer, Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Around 30 years ago, the GDP was growing by 3.7%, and inflation was at $4.6%. Both Reagan and Bush were in the office that year, and the unemployment data shows that neither of them did great on this front. Even though the unemployment rate was steady, averaging 5.4% throughout the year, there were still a lot of people being left out of employment.

Those who remained on the payroll, though, received a minimum wage of only $6.80 per hour.

9. The unemployment rate in 1999 was 4.2%.

(Source: OECD)

In 1999, when Clinton was the head of state, America had a 4.2% unemployment rate and a 2.7% inflation. During this time, the unemployment rate chart showed the lowest unemployment since 1969. The minimum wage was $5.15, equivalent to $7.84 today, and only three countries across the world recorded lower unemployment rates.

10. The rate of unemployment in 2009 was 9.3%.

(Source: OECD)

After 2008’s financial crisis, the American people had a difficult period to face. The GDP was negative (–2.5%), inflation was rising, and jobs were scarce. A lot of people got laid off and numerous others lost their homes too. It was another dark period with unemployment, again, on the rise. With a minimum hourly wage of $7.25, equivalent to $8.60 today, people had a hard time trying to make ends meet.

US Unemployment Rate 2019 Report

11. The unemployment rate in 2019 was 3.7%.

(Source: Trading Economics)

Data from July 2019 shows that the unemployment rate held steady in June and July, after jumping 0.1% from May to June. However, compared to the end of last year, when it was at 3.8%, US job seekers are in a slightly better position.

12. The US marketplace had 172,000 new jobs per month in 2019.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The unemployment rate was lowered by president Trump and his administration, contrary to popular predictions. More than halfway through 2019, the US has averaged 172,000 new job openings per month for the year. Last year, the nation averaged a monthly gain of 223,000 new positions.

13. 6.1 million Americans can’t find work.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Around 3.4% of adult males and the same percentage of adult females in the US are unable to find work, according to data on the US unemployment rate. Additionally, 12.8% of teenagers who are capable and willing to work can’t find employment.

14. 1.2 million Americans have been without a job for the long-term.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

For someone to be considered long-term unemployed, they need to be out of work for 27 weeks or more. While this number has actually dropped recently, it still means that almost 1.2 million people have been unable to find work for more than six months. The 19.2% of the unemployed belong to this category.

15. Alaska has an unemployment rate of 6.4%.

(Source: Statista)

As of June 2019, Alaska is the toughest US state to find work in. A total of 22,378 people are without a job in this state, according to data on the US unemployment rate for 2019. DC comes next with an unemployment rate of 5.6%, followed by Mississippi. All other states are below the 5% mark.

16. Vermont has an unemployment rate of 2.1%.

(Source: Statista)

Vermont is on the other end of the scale. With an unemployment rate of just 2.1%, it’s the easiest state to find work in. In fact, just 7,245 people are unemployed in the Green Mountain State.

17. Of the US metropolitan areas, El Centro, California, has the highest unemployment rate.

(Source: Statista)

The current US unemployment rate varies throughout the country, getting noticeably high in some locations, while remaining low in others. El Centro is the worst example of this, with an unemployment rate of a whopping 18.1%. Yuma, Arizona, is the second one with 17%, while all other US metro areas manage to keep their unemployment rates under 10%.

Interestingly, 10 of the 20 highest unemployment rates in metro areas are in California, as numerous unemployment and homelessness statistics indicate a close relation between the two.

18. 8.5% of those aged 16–24 are unemployed.

(Source: Statista)

According to data from July 2019, 8.5% of the young adults who wish to work are unable to find a job. Considering that the percentage was even higher in January (9.1%), some progress is being seen, at least for this demographic.

19. College graduates with some experience face an unemployment rate of 2.2%.

(Source: Southern New Hampshire University)

The current unemployment rate for recent college graduates is the same as with the rest of the unemployed population – 3.7%. However, those with at least some form of work experience are much more likely to find work. In fact, they are almost twice as likely to find work than those with just a high school diploma (5.2%).

Having a degree isn’t a surefire way to find employment, though, but it certainly is advantageous when it comes to job openings that attract many candidates.

US Unemployment Rate in 2020

30+ Startling Unemployment Statistics [Infographic] 2

20. Currently, the unemployment rate for persons aged 16 and over is 10.2%.

(Source: BLS)

Even though this percentage is still high, it is worth noting that the numbers of unemployed people keep declining. Namely, the month of April saw the highest percentages with a 14.7% unemployment rate. In July 2020, that number fell to 10.2%, with reports suggesting this trend will continue.

21. 16.3 million people are currently unemployed across the United States.

(Source: BLS)

The current unemployment rate in the US indicates that about 16.3 million of the labor force is without a job. Around 12.9 million of these are people who have lost their jobs or completed temporary gigs, while only 571,000 are people who have decided to leave their workplace.

22. 3.3 million Americans have filed insurance claims due to unemployment.

(Source: DOL)

The worldwide pandemic hit the United States the hardest, as the Department of Labor has received a record 3.3 million insurance claims from Americans by the end of March 31st. According to these unemployment statistics, the demand has plummeted so hard that owners have decided to cut costs and lay people off in an attempt to save their businesses.

23. A $2 trillion aid package was passed by the US Congress to help families impacted by the coronavirus.

(Source: Congress)

In late March of 2020, the US Congress passed the CARES act (Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act) to help families and businesses that were most impacted by the outbreak.

This aid package may not decrease the unemployment rate in the United States directly. However, expanding unemployment insurance, delaying loan payments, and sending direct payments to eligible adults will surely help lots of individuals cope during these tough times.

24. Black or African Americans have the highest unemployment rates, with 14.6% of them being out of employment.

(Source: BLS)

The latest data suggests that the Black or African American population has the highest numbers of unemployed individuals. According to these unemployment stats by race, their unemployment rate stands at 14.6%.

The Hispanic or Latino ethnicity follows closely with 12.9%, and the Asian community recording a 12% unemployment rate. Caucasian men and women, on the other hand, record the lowest unemployment rates of all races, with 9.2% of them being unemployed.

Now, let’s take a look at some positive numbers regarding jobs and unemployment rates.

Jobs Report & Unemployment Rate Calculation

25. 224,000 jobs were added to the US economy in June 2019.

(Source: CNBC)

June was a decent month for the US economy. This number was significantly greater than the previously predicted 165,000 new jobs. According to a detailed analysis of the month, the following is the list of industries that contributed the most to new job openings:

  • Health Care: 51,000
  • Transportation: 35,000
  • Warehousing: 24,000
  • Construction: 21,000
  • Manufacturing: 17,000

26. The average hourly earnings have been increasing by 0.2% a month.

(Source: CNBS)

According to the Labor Department’s unemployment rate report for June 2020, a slightly bigger monthly increase in hourly earnings was expected. The report points out that wages have gone up 3.1% over the last 12 months. With this, the average employee in the US works 34.4 hours per week, which is a figure that has been standing unchanged for months.

27. Employees on private nonfarm payrolls earn $27.98 per hour, on average.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The list of employees on private nonfarm payrolls includes all US workers except for general government, private household, nonprofit organization, and farm employees. The BLS’s official unemployment statistics and job growth reports show that, in July, they received a raise of $0.08, bringing them to a 3.2% increase in average hourly earnings for 2019.

28. Manufacturing employees work 40.4 hours per week.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Manufacturing seems to be the busiest industry. When its employees work overtime, it’s for an average of 3.2 hours per week. Production and nonsupervisory employees in other fields (among private nonfarm payrolls) worked an average of 33.5 hours per week in July 2019. Let’s take a look at what unemployment statistics suggest about full-time and part-time work.

29. Job statistics indicate that 4 million Americans are now working part-time instead of full-time.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

These reports show that a large portion of the working population is slowly being pushed out of work. Millions of Americans who want to have full-time positions and make an honest living are unable to do so due to economic reasons. Their employers are unable to assign them the hours needed for full-time employment.

Unemployment Rate Statistics & News: Worst & Best Countries in the World

30+ Startling Unemployment Statistics [Infographic] 3

For those thinking the United States of America has it bad, here are the three countries with the highest unemployment rates in the world, as well as the three with the best rates. However, keep in mind that the notably high and low rates aren’t always reflective of the countries’ economic state. There are other factors in play, but for now, let’s just focus on the unemployment demographics around the globe.

30. The unemployment rate in Syria is approximately 8.45%

(Source: Statista)

This war-torn country has an unemployment rate of 8.5%. Unfortunately, it’s been around 8% since 2009. However, 2001 was the worst year for Syrian citizens when unemployment is in question. The unemployment rate in 2001 was 11.63%

31. As of 2019, 6.6% of Senegal’s labor population is unemployed.

(Source: Statista)

This West African country, home to 15.85 million people, has been facing steady unemployment rates in recent years. Historically speaking, Senegal has endured low unemployment rates. However, due to a rapid growth in population, the country’s rates spiked up from 2006 to 2011, reaching an all-time high of 10.36%.

The government managed to calm these unemployment trends and lowered the unemployment with each passing year down to a 6.6% in 2019.

32. Djibouti has an unemployment rate of around 10.32%.

(Source: Statista)

The second African country on the list, Djibouti has a population of just under 1 million. According to the Statista’s estimates, over 10% of those capable of work can’t find a job. What may be positive news, ironically, is that the rates were even higher seven years prior, when almost 11% of population was unemployed.

33. Cambodia has an unemployment rate of just 0.3%.

(Source: FactsMaps)

If you thought that Switzerland, Germany, or Japan would be among the countries with the lowest unemployment rate, you’d be wrong. Statistics on the worldwide unemployment rate for 2019 show that Cambodia, a country with over 16 million inhabitants, ranked first place.

However, 51% of the jobs in Cambodia are not salaried. Instead, they’re related to the farming industry. This may or may not be beneficial, and it all depends on each person’s life circumstances.

34. Qatar’s unemployment rate is only slightly higher, at 0.6%.

(Source: FactsMaps, Wiki)

Good news for this Asian country’s population of 2.63 million. For comparison, additional unemployment stats put Japan in 21st place (with unemployment at 2.9%), Switzerland 22nd (3%), and Germany 30th (3.8%). The US takes the 42nd place on the list.

35. Just 0.7% of Thailand’s population is unemployed.

(Source: FactsMaps)

Thailand finds itself on this list for the same reason its two predecessors did — the majority of the population doesn’t work for a salary, but rather in farming. This is a rather unique trade that the population of Thailand practices for many years now.

US Unemployment Statistics – Summary

With a labor force consisting of nearly 160 million individuals and a 10% unemployment rate, it’s safe to say that the unemployment situation is far from ideal. This is an issue that’s really complex, but is not new nonetheless. Politicians and government officials are trying to tackle this problem, as every individual needs to be able to afford the basic necessities.

Hopefully, these stats and facts can shed some light into this topic, and advise people not take their jobs for granted. After all, there are countless others waiting ready at the opportunity to jump on a call and take your place.

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