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United States Unemployment, 1948 to July 2019.

US unemployment rate average per year from 1948 to 2019 using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey.”

1948 to 2019
Infographic

Data compiled from Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey," accessed July 2019.

The graph “United States Unemployment, 1948 to July 2019” shows the unemployment rate in the United States from 1948 to July 2019. The graphic below explains how the US government calculates the unemployment rate and who is considered unemployed.

Tif folder

Questions:

  Using data from the graph, estimate the numbers and the dates to the best of your ability.

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

a. What factors might cause this high unemployment rate? How does a high rate of unemployment affect the overall economy? How does it affect the everyday lives of Americans?

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

a. What factors might cause this low unemployment rate? How does a low rate of unemployment affect the overall economy? How does it affect the everyday lives of Americans?

3. Is the unemployment rate for 2019 low or high? What is the unemployment rate?

a. How might the unemployment rate in 2019 affect your life?

4. According to the graphic “Civilian Non-Institutional Population,” who is NOT included in the unemployment rate?

 

Using this source, students will identify the unemployment rate from 1948 to 2019, pinpoint the highs and lows, evaluate the current unemployment rate (as of July 2019) in comparison to historical data, understand how the unemployment rate is calculated, and recognize the limitations of the unemployment rate data. (Sources 3 and 4 address where the data comes from.) 

Since 1948, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has analyzed and published unemployment data from the Current Population Survey. The unemployment data is based on those in the civilian labor force who are looking for work but have not found employment. This data set is used to populate the graph on the US unemployment rate since 1948.

This source shows that the current unemployment rate is approximately 3.7%. It also demonstrates that unemployment between 1948 and 2019 was at its highest in 1983 at approximately 11% and at its lowest in 1952–53 at around 3%.

Note for teacher: This data is from the BLS, extracted on July 2019. Current data is available here: https://beta.bls.gov/dataViewer/view/timeseries/LNU04000000

 

Click on link; on Time Period click Start Year and select 1947. Click Update. This can then be downloaded as a jpeg. *Note that the real-time data is per month, not an average for the year.

This source shows that the current unemployment rate as of July 2019 is approximately 3.7%. It also demonstrates that unemployment between 1948 and 2019 was at its highest in 1983 at approximately 11% and at its lowest in 1952–53 at around 3%.