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30 Flabbergasting Unemployment Trends

by Branka Vuleta

What better way to approach the final months of the year than discussing the unemployment trends we’ve noticed over the last few months?

Before we jump into the statistics, we can briefly say that 2019 was a good one. While employment figures were not ideal, they’re slowly getting there. There are some issues that need to be resolved, but we’re getting to those too. 

Are we justified to feel optimistic about 2020?

Let’s find out.

Top 10 Statistics and Facts on Unemployment Trends

  • The lowest unemployment rate in US history was recorded in 1944 (1.2%).
  • The highest unemployment rate in US history was recorded in 1933 (24.9%).
  • The current US unemployment rate is 3.7%.
  • The unemployment rate in California is 4.1%.
  • The unemployment rate in the state of New York is 4%.
  • African-Americans face an unemployment rate of 6.7%.
  • Hispanics face an unemployment rate of 4.5%.
  • 53% of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed.
  • 263,000 new jobs were added to the US economy in April 2019.
  • The unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since 1969.

US Unemployment Rate History

unemployment trends - history

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

(the balance)

Before the Great Depression started, the US unemployment rate was quite low. For the next 12 years, however, the unemployment rate stayed above the 10% mark.

2. In 1933, the unemployment rate in the US was 24.9%.

(the balance, lovetoknow)

The highest point on the US unemployment rate chart was recorded halfway through the Great Depression. During this period, a quarter of those who were capable of working, or around 15 million Americans, were unable to find a job.

3. In 1941, the unemployment rate in the US was 9.9%.

(the balance, Timeline)

As the economy started recovering, the US became embroiled in World War II. Roughly 16 million Americans were involved in the war, which got the unemployment rate below 10% for the first time in a while. It took more than 40 years for the United States unemployment rate to exceed this unflattering milestone again.

4. In 1944, the unemployment rate in the US was 1.2%.

(the balance)

As the Second World War came to a close, the US was in major trouble – due to the lack of workers, businesses were unable to expand. This shows that low unemployment rates are not necessarily a good thing. Research shows that companies often struggle to find workers when unemployment rates are below 4%, not to mention the struggles they had to go through with the lowest unemployment rate in US history.

5. In 1982, the unemployment rate in the US was 10.8%.

(the balance)

Another recession hit the US in 1980, and the consequences became fully apparent two years later, when the unemployment rate exceeded 10% for the first time in over four decades. Luckily, this unemployment crisis didn’t last long.

6. In 2017, the unemployment rate in the US was 4.1%.

(the balance)

In 2017, as President Trump took office, the unemployment rate in the US was at the lowest point in over a decade. For now, as you’ll learn from the statistics listed below, unemployment is still on a declining trend.

Unemployment Trends Around the World

unemployment trends - broke

7. The unemployment rate in Germany is 3.1%.

(Google, FocusEconomics)

Germany, the fourth largest economy in the world and Europe’s largest, has an unemployment rate of 3.1%. This is the lowest percentage the country has had since reunification in October 1990.

8. The unemployment rate in the UK is 3.8%.


According to United Kingdom unemployment rate in June 2019 data, the fifth largest economy in the world is neck and neck with Malta, Hungary, and Denmark when it comes to unemployment.

9. The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic is 2.8%.


The Czech Republic holds the bragging rights for being the state with the most employed population in the EU. The unemployment rate in this country has been declining since March 2013, when it peaked at 7.3%.

10. The unemployment rate in France is 8.5%.


France unemployment rate charts show that this European country could never match its neighbors in the number of employed people. The lowest unemployment France has had in recent history was in 1983, when 6.7% of the population were without a job.

11. The unemployment rate in India is 6.8%.

(The Economic Times)

Moving further east, we learn that the unemployment rate in India is much higher than that in the Europe Union. This should come as no surprise, given that India has a labor force that consists of a massive 466 million individuals.

12. The unemployment rate in China is 3.6%.


China, the second largest economy in the world, has an unemployment rate of 3.6%. This is an impressive number, considering that the country has a population of nearly 1.4 billion people.

Data on the US Unemployment Rate in 2019

unemployment trends - image

13. The unemployment rate in California is 4.1%.

(Google, Statista)

The Golden State has the largest population and economy in the US. It is also at the bottom of the list of the 12 US states with the highest unemployment rate. The unemployment used to be an even bigger problem in California; in March 2010, it stood at 12.3%, national unemployment rate data points out.

14. The unemployment rate in New York is 4%.

(Google, Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Unemployment in the Empire State is at an all-time low according to the August 2019 statistics, but it still remains above the national average (more on that later). New York experienced its highest unemployment rate in December 2009, when it was 8.9%.

15. The unemployment rate in Oregon is 4%.


The Beaver State’s unemployment percentage is the same as New York’s. However, the relatively low unemployment rate trend has very consequences on Oregon’s economy, as its population is much smaller. Oregon experienced peak unemployment in May 2009, when 11.9% of its labor force was unemployed.

16. The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 3.9%.


Pennsylvania’s unemployment hit a peak in March 2010, when it stood at 8.8%. These days, it remains at a reasonable 3.9%.

17. The unemployment rate in New Jersey is 3.3%.


Unemployment in the Garden State remains below the national average after coming down from a spike of 9.8% in 2009, 2019 unemployment rate figures show.

18. The unemployment rate in Florida is 3.3%.


Those moving to the Sunshine State without a job lined up can expect virtually no difficulties finding one, with Florida unemployment far below the national average. Florida also had to suffer through the unemployment crisis of 2009/10; in January 2010, the number of unemployed stood at 11.3%.

US Unemployment Trends

unemployment trends - application

19. The unemployment rate in the US is 3.7%.

(Bureau of Labor Statistics, Statista)

As of August 2019, the unemployment rate in America sits at 3.7%, which is an improvement compared to the beginning of the year, when it was 4%. Even though there are 19 states whose unemployment rates go over the national average, the rest manage to keep their rates low.

20. The US is experiencing the lowest unemployment in the last 50 years.

(The Washington Post)

Long-term US unemployment trends point to an interesting fact: 

The unemployment rate hasn’t been lower in exactly half a century. The last time the unemployment rate was close to today’s was way back in 1969, when President Nixon took office. 3.5% of the population was without a job at the time.

21. 263,000 jobs were added to the US economy in April 2019.

(The Washington Post)

Even though more than a quarter of a million jobs were offered to Americans during a single month, there are still 4.7 million part-time workers who can’t find full-time employment. While the lowest unemployment rate in half a century helps workers find jobs, 1.2 million of them have been looking for work for over six months.

22. There were more than 27 million part-time workers in the US in 2018.


Part-time workers account for around 17% of the US labor force. The number of people who work part-time involuntarily is 70% of the number of unemployed in the US, which is estimated at 6.2-7.4 million, depending on the unemployment rate calculation method (U-3 or U-6 definition).

23. 53% of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed.

(University of Washington)

Employees in positions that don’t require a college degree represent a large chunk of the US workforce – as many as 4.5 million. And if we include experience, the number increases more than fivefold, current unemployment rate in the US data stresses.

24. 8.6% of US youth are unemployed.


As of August 2019, 8.6% of those aged 16-24 were unemployed. Top economies in the world have much lower unemployment rates for this age group: 

In Germany, for example, 5.1% of the youth is unemployed. 

Interesting and Thought-Provoking Unemployment Statistics

unemployment trends - keyboard

25. The unemployment rate for the African-American population is 6.7%.

(The Washington Post)

According to unemployment statistics, the job market isn’t the same for everyone. When it comes to unemployment rates by ethnicity, African-Americans have it the worst. The number of unemployed among this population is almost double the unemployment rate for Caucasians in 15 states.

26. The unemployment rate for the Hispanic population is 4.5%.

(Economic Policy Institute)

Unemployment rate by year data shows that unemployment for the Hispanic population is equal to the unemployment rate of Caucasians in just three states: Georgia, Oklahoma, and New Jersey. It should be noted that the data is available for just 16 states.

27. The unemployment rate for the Asian population is 3.2%.

(Economic Policy Institute)

The unemployment rates for the Asian population are extremely low according to the data gathered from 11 US states.

28. 4% of millennials are unemployed.

(Pew Research Center)

The US unemployment rate in 2018 surveys found that 4% of millennials are unemployed, while 12% are not in the labor force. At their age (between 22 and 37), 7% of baby boomers were unemployed, with the same percentage not participating in the labor force.

29. The global unemployment rate has reached 5%.


Last year, around 172 million people around the world were unemployed, unemployment graphs show. This means that the global unemployment rate is currently the lowest it has been since the financial crisis of 2008. 

30. Around two billion workers are in informal employment.


Estimates whow two billion workers, or 61% of the global workforce, are employed under the table. This doesn’t only mean that their pay is low and that job security is not a thing for them, but also that they don’t have access to social services and basic workers’ rights.


We’ve learned how to predict the weather, earthquakes, and even human behavior to some extent. Long-term economic trends, as much as we’d like to think otherwise, are impossible to pin down. They depend on innovation, global politics, and too many other variables to be accurately predicted.

We can, however, be optimistic about the future based on current trends. At the same time, we have to keep in mind that there are numerous aspects we need to work on in order for that optimism to be justified.


1. What is the unemployment rate in the US today?

The unemployment rate in the US currently sits at 3.7%. However, there is a significant difference in unemployment rates among certain demographics. African-Americans and Hispanics are far less likely to find work than Caucasians and Asians.

2. Is US unemployment at an all time low?

The all-time low for US unemployment was recorded in 1944 when it was just 1.2%. We’ve briefly discussed the disadvantages of a rate this low and concluded that it’s not good for the economy. The current unemployment rate is not at an all time low, but it is the lowest it has been in exactly half a century.

3. What is the real unemployment rate in the United States in 2019?

The real unemployment rate is something we can only speculate about. The unemployment data can be heavily influenced by the methods used to calculate it as well as on the definition of unemployment. Therefore, the data published by the Bureau of Labor should be taken as the real unemployment rate.

4. What is the lowest unemployment rate in US history?

As already mentioned, the lowest unemployment rate in US history was recorded towards the end of World War II, in 1944. Just 1.2% of the US workforce was without work at that point, which caused issues with expansion and development for companies around the country.

5. Is unemployment going to be down in 2019?

If we consider the current trends, we can undoubtedly answer this question with a “Yes.” At the beginning of 2019, the unemployment rate was above 4%. Unemployment trends reveal it has been dropping since then, promising to get below the current 3.7% by the end of the year.


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