The current unemployment rate is reported monthly in the Jobs Report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate is a lagging indicator. That's because employers resist hiring new workers until they are absolutely sure the economy will stay strong. Although it's not good for predicting trends, it's useful for confirming trends. For more, see U.S. Unemployment Rate by Year.
Here are the unemployment rate statistics for every month since March 2007. Remember - these are the original reports. The BLS updates them, so you can compare these announcements to the revised versions at Unemployment Historical Data.
June - The unemployment rate fell to at 6.1%, with 9.5 million Americans still looking for work. Of those, 3.1 million have been looking for more than 6 months. An additional 7.5 million are working part-time, but would prefer a full-time job. There's another 2 million people who are jobless, but haven't looked for work in the past month. Of those, 676,000 have just given up. For more, see Real Unemployment Rate.
- January - The unemployment rate fell to 6.6%, even though fewer jobs were created than in December. As expected, retail lost 12,900 seasonal workers since the holiday shopping season disappointed. Second, health care lost 6,000 jobs, after losing 4,000 in December. The lower rate was surprising, since more people went back into the labor force, and the participation rate improved to 63%. Keep in mind, the BLS Employment Report is from two different surveys.The two measures -- jobs and unemployment -- often don't tie out.
- February - The rate rose slightly to 6.7%. The labor force participation rate remained at 63%. The stock market was mixed. Many investors think that economic data won't be clear until after the winter storms subside. However, economic growth was sluggish starting with Halloween retail sales. Other investors thought the Fed would beef up its Quantitative Easing purchases if the economy falters. Even though new Fed Chair Janet Yellen is more concerned about unemployment than inflation, the Fed knows it must withdraw liquidity while times are relatively good if it's to have any dry powder ready for another recession.
- March - The rate remained at 6.7%. Information technology only gained 2,000 jobs.
- April - The unemployment rate is 6.3%, after 800,000 people dropped out of the labor force.
- May - The rate stayed at 6.3%, with 9.8 million Americans actively searching for a job, and a third who have been looking for more than 6 months. Another 2.1 million people haven't looked for work in the past month, including 697,000 who are discouraged. There's 7.3 million who work part-time, but prefer full-time.
Past U.S. Unemployment Statistics
- 2013 -The rate remained above 7% until December. Meanwhile, the stock market rose by nearly 30% as businesses reported strong earnings.
- 2012 - Discouraged workers returned to the labor force, keeping the rate above 8% until right before the Presidential elections. The threat of the fiscal cliff suppressed job growth for the rest of the year.
- 2011 - Nearly half of the unemployed had been so for six months or more.
- 2010 - Unemployment remained stubbornly above 9.4% the entire year.
- 2009 - The first time unemployment rose above 10% since the 1982 recession
- 2008 - How bad did unemployment get?
- 2007 - Could the 2007 unemployment rate predict the recession?
- U.S. Unemployment Rate by Year - All the way back to 1929