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Unemployment rate the year you turned 16

Unemployment rate the year you turned 16
1/Wikicommons

Unemployment rate the year you turned 16

The younger generation always has it easier—at least according to their parents and grandparents. They walked five miles to school, uphill both ways, as the old saying goes. Pretty much everyone has wondered whether things were really as tough as mom and dad claimed, but how can you ever tell for sure?

There is no single metric by which we can compare the difficulty of our parents’ lives to our own, but we can at least assess the relative difficulty of securing work today versus when they were first entering the job market. Stacker pulled data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to compile a list of the U.S. unemployment rates from every year between 1940 and 2017. Between 1940 and 1946, unemployment statistics considered individuals 14 years or older, while the contemporary system, which was instituted in 1947, accounts for people 16 and older. The Bureau of Labor Statistics counts an individual as unemployed if they are currently jobless, looking for a job, and available for work. Click through the years to find out how the unemployment rate may have affected your job search—and see if your parents’ generation (or maybe your generation) really did have it worse.

Click here to find out the state of the U.S. economy the year you were born. 

1940
2/U.S. Department of Defense

1940

Annual unemployment rate: 14.1%

1941
3/Wikicommons

1941

Annual unemployment rate: 10.0%

1942
4/Wikicommons

1942

Annual unemployment rate: 4.7%

1943
5/GoodFreePhotos

1943

Annual unemployment rate: 1.9%

1944
6/Wikicommons

1944

Annual unemployment rate: 1.2%

1945
7/Wikicommons

1945

Annual unemployment rate: 1.9%

1946
8/The Library of Congress // Flickr

1946

Annual unemployment rate: 4.0%

1947
9/IISG // Flickr

1947

Annual unemployment rate: 3.9%

1948
10/Wikicommons

1948

Annual unemployment rate: 3.8%

1949
11/Wikicommons

1949

Annual unemployment rate: 5.9%

1950
12/Wikicommons

1950

Annual unemployment rate: 5.3%

1951
13/Wikicommons

1951

Annual unemployment rate: 3.3%

1952
14/Wikicommons

1952

Annual unemployment rate: 3.0%

1953
15/Peter K. Levy // Flickr

1953

Annual unemployment rate: 2.9%

1954
16/Wikicommons

1954

Annual unemployment rate: 5.5%

1955
17/Wikicommons

1955

Annual unemployment rate: 4.4%

1956
18/Herber Behrens // Wikicommons

1956

Annual unemployment rate: 4.1%

1957
19/Wikicommons

1957

Annual unemployment rate: 4.3%

1958
20/NASA

1958

Annual unemployment rate: 6.8%

1959
21/Wikicommons

1959

Annual unemployment rate: 5.5%

1960
22/FDR Presidential Library and Museum // Flickr

1960

Annual unemployment rate: 5.5%

1961
23/Wikicommons

1961

Annual unemployment rate: 6.7%

1962
24/Wikicommons

1962

Annual unemployment rate: 5.5%

1963
25/Wikicommons

1963

Annual unemployment rate: 5.7%

1964
26/Wikicommons

1964

Annual unemployment rate: 5.2%

1965
27/Wikicommons

1965

Annual unemployment rate: 4.5%

1966
28/Wikicommons

1966

Annual unemployment rate: 3.8%

1967
29/Wikicommons

1967

Annual unemployment rate: 3.8%

1968
30/Kheel Center // Flickr

1968

Annual unemployment rate: 3.6%

1969
31/NASA

1969

Annual unemployment rate: 3.5%

1970
32/Central Intelligence Agency // Flickr

1970

Annual unemployment rate: 4.9%

1971
33/Leena A. Krohn // Wikicommons

1971

Annual unemployment rate: 5.9%

1972
34/Wikicommons

1972

Annual unemployment rate: 5.6%

1973
35/Wikicommons

1973

Annual unemployment rate: 4.9%

1974
36/Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library

1974

Annual unemployment rate: 5.6%

1975
37/Wikicommons

1975

Annual unemployment rate: 8.5%

1976
38/Wikicommons

1976

Annual unemployment rate: 7.7%

1977
39/Wikicommons

1977

Annual unemployment rate: 7.1%

1978
40/Wikicommons

1978

Annual unemployment rate: 6.1%

1979
41/Wikicommons

1979

Annual unemployment rate: 5.8%

1980
42/Wikicommons

1980

Annual unemployment rate: 7.1%

1981
43/Wikicommons

1981

Annual unemployment rate: 7.6%

1982
44/Wikicommons

1982

Annual unemployment rate: 9.7%

1983
45/Wikicommons

1983

Annual unemployment rate: 9.6%

1984
46/Wikicommons

1984

Annual unemployment rate: 7.5%

1985
47/NASA

1985

Annual unemployment rate: 7.2%

1986
48/Wikicommons

1986

Annual unemployment rate: 7.0%

1987
49/kingrahsu // Flickr

1987

Annual unemployment rate: 6.2%

1988
50/City of Boston Archives // Flickr

1988

Annual unemployment rate: 5.5%

1989
51/Wikicommons

1989

Annual unemployment rate: 5.3%

1990
52/NASA

1990

Annual unemployment rate: 5.6%

1991
53/NOAA

1991

Annual unemployment rate: 6.8%

1992
54/Wikicommons

1992

Annual unemployment rate: 7.5%

1993
55/Wikicommons

1993

Annual unemployment rate: 6.9%

1994
56/Wikicommons

1994

Annual unemployment rate: 6.1%

1995
57/Wikicommons

1995

Annual unemployment rate: 5.6%

1996
58/Wikicommons

1996

Annual unemployment rate: 5.4%

1997
59/Wikicommons

1997

Annual unemployment rate: 4.9%

1998
60/Wikicommons

1998

Annual unemployment rate: 4.5%

1999
61/Tonde2010 // Wikicommons

1999

Annual unemployment rate: 4.2%

2000
62/Ian // Flickr

2000

Annual unemployment rate: 4.0%

2001
63/George W. Bush White House

2001

Annual unemployment rate: 4.7%

2002
64/Wikicommons

2002

Annual unemployment rate: 5.8%

2003
65/National Aeronautics and Space Administration // Wikicommons

2003

Annual unemployment rate: 6.0%

2004
66/Wikicommons

2004

Annual unemployment rate: 5.5%

2005
67/Wikicommons

2005

Annual unemployment rate: 5.1%

2006
68/Wikicommons

2006

Annual unemployment rate: 4.6%

2007
69/William Beutler // Flickr

2007

Annual unemployment rate: 4.6%

2008
70/Wikicommons

2008

Annual unemployment rate: 5.8%

2009
71/George W. Bush White House

2009

Annual unemployment rate: 9.3%

2010
72/NOAA_response_restoration // Flickr

2010

Annual unemployment rate: 9.6%

2011
73/Michael Fleshman // Flickr

2011

Annual unemployment rate: 8.9%

2012
74/Gage Skidmore // Wikicommons

2012

Annual unemployment rate: 8.1%

2013
75/Obama White House

2013

Annual unemployment rate: 7.4%

2014
76/Wikicommons

2014

Annual unemployment rate: 6.2%

2015
77/Michael Vadon // Flickr

2015

Annual unemployment rate: 5.3%

2016
78/Wikicommons

2016

Annual unemployment rate: 4.9%

2017
79/Wikicommons

2017

Annual unemployment rate: 4.4%

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