U.S. annual unemployment rate 1990-2022
Unemployment is defined as a situation when an employed person is laid off, fired or quits his work and is still actively looking for a job. Unemployment can be found even in the healthiest economies, and many economists consider an unemployment rate at or below five percent to mean there is 'full employment' within an economy. If former employed persons go back to school or leave the job to take care of children they are no longer part of the active labor force and therefore not counted among the unemployed.
Unemployment can also be the effect of events that are not part of the normal dynamics of an economy. Layoffs can be the result of technological progress, for example when robots replace workers in automobile production. Sometimes unemployment is caused by job outsourcing, due to the fact that employers often search for cheap labor around the globe and not only domestically. In 2022, the tech sector in the U.S. experienced significant lay-offs amid growing economic uncertainty. In the fourth quarter of 2022, more than 70,000 workers were laid off, despite low unemployment nationwide.
The unemployment rate in the United States varies from state to state. In 2021, California had the highest number of unemployed persons with 1.38 million out of work.