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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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