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California Unemployment Data 1976-2019.

California Unemployment Data average per year from 1976 to 2019 using data from Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Unemployment Rate: California," Local Area Unemployment Statistics, accessed July 2019.

2019 July 24

Unemployment Rate: California, Local Area Unemployment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, July 2019,

The Bureau of Labor Statistics collects information about employment and labor. The graph “California Unemployment Data” was created using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Local Area Unemployment Statistics, which uses the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of households conducted by the  Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The unemployment rate can be found on the vertical axis, and the time period (in years) can be found on the horizontal axis.

The unemployment rate is calculated as follows:

Unemployment Rate = ((Number of Unemployed) / (Labor Force)) * 100

  • Working-age population are those 16 years and older, not in institutions such as prisons or elder care, nor active in the armed forces.

  • The labor force is the sum of the number of people employed and those who are unemployed

  • Unemployed are defined as those who are able to work, are jobless, and are actively looking for work.




  1. What was the highest unemployment rate in California ? In what year did that occur? 

  2. What was the lowest unemployment rate in California? In what year did that occur? 

  3. What is the unemployment rate in California in July 2019? Is that low or high?

Using this source, students will identify the unemployment rates in California since 1976 and the highs and lows of these rates, and they will evaluate the current unemployment rate in comparison to historical data. Students should use their knowledge of the limitations of unemployment data from the prior sources to identify if the data tells the whole story of unemployment in California.

This source can be used to review the unemployment rate and how it is calculated, and to identify California unemployment rates as they compare to the US unemployment rate during these same years. Students should now be able to define the terms Civilian labor force and the unemployed from prior sources. They should also be able to identify that the unemployment rate is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed by the number in the civilian labor force. This source shows the unemployment rate in California is currently around the same as that in the United States, around 3%. Historically it shows that unemployment in California between 1976 and 2019 was at its highest in 2010 at approximately 12.3% and its lowest is in 2018 at 4.1%, while other low periods of unemployment include 1989, 2001, and 2007.

Note: This source is from data through July 2019. For more current data go to: Make sure Start Year is 1976 and click Update. The chart can be downloaded as a jpeg: look for the download button under the graph to the right. Data in table format by month is also available.