Unemployment rate in the United States from 1990 to 2015

This statistic displays the unemployment rate in the USA from 1990 to 2015. In 1990, this rate stood at 5.6 percent. Unemployment stood at 5.3 percent in 2015. For monthly updates on unemployment in the United States visit either the monthly national unemployment rate here, or the monthly state unemployment rate here. Both are seasonally adjusted.


Unemployment is defined as a situation when an employed person is laid off, fired or quits his work and is still looking for a job. Even in a healthy economy unemployment occurs. 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 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 on a national level. A rise in unemployment was also an effect of the financial crisis that hit the United States in 2009.

Between 2008 and 2012, the global youth unemployment rate increased about 0.7 percent. The youth unemployment problem is caused by many different reasons and varies across regions.

Most of the countries worldwide with high unemployment rates are African countries, such as Zimbabwe. With an unemployment rate of 95 percent, Zimbabwe is the country with the highest unemployment rate in the world in 2009.

The unemployment rate in the United States varies from state to state. The state with the highest number of unemployed persons in the United States in 2013 is California. 1.6 million unemployed persons were counted in California.

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 Unemployment rate
'90 5.6%
'91 6.8%
'92 7.5%
'93 6.9%
'94 6.1%
'95 5.6%
'96 5.4%
'97 4.9%
'98 4.5%
'99 4.2%
'00 4%
'01 4.7%
'02 5.8%
'03 6%
'04 5.5%
'05 5.1%
'06 4.6%
'07 4.6%
'08 5.8%
'09 9.3%
'10 9.6%
'11 8.9%
'12 8.1%
'13 7.4%
'14 6.2%
'15 5.3%
Source information for logged in users only.
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