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Unemployment rate the year you turned 16

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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. 

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U.S. Department of Defense

1940

Annual unemployment rate: 14.1%

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Wikicommons

1941

Annual unemployment rate: 10.0%

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Wikicommons

1942

Annual unemployment rate: 4.7%

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GoodFreePhotos

1943

Annual unemployment rate: 1.9%

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Wikicommons

1944

Annual unemployment rate: 1.2%

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Wikicommons

1945

Annual unemployment rate: 1.9%

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The Library of Congress // Flickr

1946

Annual unemployment rate: 4.0%

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IISG // Flickr

1947

Annual unemployment rate: 3.9%

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Wikicommons

1948

Annual unemployment rate: 3.8%

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Wikicommons

1949

Annual unemployment rate: 5.9%

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Wikicommons

1950

Annual unemployment rate: 5.3%

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Wikicommons

1951

Annual unemployment rate: 3.3%

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Wikicommons

1952

Annual unemployment rate: 3.0%

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Peter K. Levy // Flickr

1953

Annual unemployment rate: 2.9%

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Wikicommons

1954

Annual unemployment rate: 5.5%

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Wikicommons

1955

Annual unemployment rate: 4.4%

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Herber Behrens // Wikicommons

1956

Annual unemployment rate: 4.1%

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Wikicommons

1957

Annual unemployment rate: 4.3%

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NASA

1958

Annual unemployment rate: 6.8%

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Wikicommons

1959

Annual unemployment rate: 5.5%

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FDR Presidential Library and Museum // Flickr

1960

Annual unemployment rate: 5.5%

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Wikicommons

1961

Annual unemployment rate: 6.7%

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Wikicommons

1962

Annual unemployment rate: 5.5%

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Wikicommons

1963

Annual unemployment rate: 5.7%

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Wikicommons

1964

Annual unemployment rate: 5.2%

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Wikicommons

1965

Annual unemployment rate: 4.5%

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Wikicommons

1966

Annual unemployment rate: 3.8%

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Wikicommons

1967

Annual unemployment rate: 3.8%

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Kheel Center // Flickr

1968

Annual unemployment rate: 3.6%

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NASA

1969

Annual unemployment rate: 3.5%

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Central Intelligence Agency // Flickr

1970

Annual unemployment rate: 4.9%

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Leena A. Krohn // Wikicommons

1971

Annual unemployment rate: 5.9%

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Wikicommons

1972

Annual unemployment rate: 5.6%

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Wikicommons

1973

Annual unemployment rate: 4.9%

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Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library

1974

Annual unemployment rate: 5.6%

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Wikicommons

1975

Annual unemployment rate: 8.5%

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Wikicommons

1976

Annual unemployment rate: 7.7%

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Wikicommons

1977

Annual unemployment rate: 7.1%

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Wikicommons

1978

Annual unemployment rate: 6.1%

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Wikicommons

1979

Annual unemployment rate: 5.8%

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Wikicommons

1980

Annual unemployment rate: 7.1%

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Wikicommons

1981

Annual unemployment rate: 7.6%

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Wikicommons

1982

Annual unemployment rate: 9.7%

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Wikicommons

1983

Annual unemployment rate: 9.6%

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Wikicommons

1984

Annual unemployment rate: 7.5%

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NASA

1985

Annual unemployment rate: 7.2%

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Wikicommons

1986

Annual unemployment rate: 7.0%

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kingrahsu // Flickr

1987

Annual unemployment rate: 6.2%

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City of Boston Archives // Flickr

1988

Annual unemployment rate: 5.5%

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Wikicommons

1989

Annual unemployment rate: 5.3%

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NASA

1990

Annual unemployment rate: 5.6%

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NOAA

1991

Annual unemployment rate: 6.8%

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Wikicommons

1992

Annual unemployment rate: 7.5%

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Wikicommons

1993

Annual unemployment rate: 6.9%

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Wikicommons

1994

Annual unemployment rate: 6.1%

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Wikicommons

1995

Annual unemployment rate: 5.6%

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Wikicommons

1996

Annual unemployment rate: 5.4%

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Wikicommons

1997

Annual unemployment rate: 4.9%

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Wikicommons

1998

Annual unemployment rate: 4.5%

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Tonde2010 // Wikicommons

1999

Annual unemployment rate: 4.2%

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Ian // Flickr

2000

Annual unemployment rate: 4.0%

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George W. Bush White House

2001

Annual unemployment rate: 4.7%

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Wikicommons

2002

Annual unemployment rate: 5.8%

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration // Wikicommons

2003

Annual unemployment rate: 6.0%

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Wikicommons

2004

Annual unemployment rate: 5.5%

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Wikicommons

2005

Annual unemployment rate: 5.1%

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Wikicommons

2006

Annual unemployment rate: 4.6%

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William Beutler // Flickr

2007

Annual unemployment rate: 4.6%

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Wikicommons

2008

Annual unemployment rate: 5.8%

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George W. Bush White House

2009

Annual unemployment rate: 9.3%

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NOAA_response_restoration // Flickr

2010

Annual unemployment rate: 9.6%

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Michael Fleshman // Flickr

2011

Annual unemployment rate: 8.9%

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Gage Skidmore // Wikicommons

2012

Annual unemployment rate: 8.1%

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Obama White House

2013

Annual unemployment rate: 7.4%

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Wikicommons

2014

Annual unemployment rate: 6.2%

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Michael Vadon // Flickr

2015

Annual unemployment rate: 5.3%

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Wikicommons

2016

Annual unemployment rate: 4.9%

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Wikicommons

2017

Annual unemployment rate: 4.4%

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