Unemployment - Statistics & Facts

Unemployment is defined as the part of the labor force that is without a job and has been seeking employment within the last four weeks. The extent to which unemployment occurs is usually measured by the unemployment rate. It is derived by simply dividing the number of unemployed people by the total labor force. The unemployment rate is a relative indicator, independent of country size and thus facilitates cross-country comparisons.

Unemployment is subject to seasonal fluctuations. It is typically higher during the winter when construction work and other outdoor occupations are in low demand. That is why monthly unemployment statistics are often adjusted, based on these fluctuations, for the sake of comparability. The U.S. unemployment rate was at 4.9 percent in 2016 and has declined during the past 12 months from 5.3 percent. Recent trends show a recovering job market. Unemployment has declined from a peak of 9.6 percent in 2010.

Unemployment figures in the U.S. vary dramatically from state to state. According to this state unemployment ranking by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rates ranged from 2.7 percent in New Hampshire to 6.8 percent in New Mexico in February 2017. The unemployment rate in California , the state with the largest GDP, was relatively high at 5.4 percent in 2016. Florida’s and New York's unemployment rates were also above the national average that year. From an international perspective the, U.S. unemployment rate is relatively low. The average unemployment rate in the European Union was almost twice as high as the average unemployment rate in the United States as of February 2017.

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U.S. unemployment - Important statistics

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