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The unemployment rate the year you turned 16

  • 2009

    - Annual unemployment rate: 9.3%

    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, enacted by President Barack Obama, would assist in ending the recession by gradually giving up to $787 billion to small businesses and taxpayers. Obama also authorized the extension of unemployment benefits for up to three years, including some workers who were otherwise not entitled to receive the benefits.

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  • 2010

    - Annual unemployment rate: 9.6%

    Obama implemented tax cuts that would somewhat alleviate U.S. economic problems and assist in starting to lower the unemployment rate in the next year. Meanwhile, the states with the highest numbers of unemployment included Nevada at 14.9%, California at 12.4%, and Florida at 11.5%; and the states with the highest employment-population proportions were North Dakota at 69.8%, Nebraska at 67.7%, and South Dakota at 67.6%.

    [Pictured: Contractors install solar modules in New Jersey as part of state and federal tax incentives to help commercial enterprises.]

  • 2011

    - Annual unemployment rate: 8.9%

    By 2011, up to 14 million Americans were out of work. After 26 months of job losses, the constant rise in the U.S. debt ceiling and end of the Iraq War would help alleviate unemployment, which would drop by .8% by 2012.

    [Pictured: The facade of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C., on Feb. 22, 2011.]

  • 2012

    - Annual unemployment rate: 8.1%

    Quantitative easing, which enabled better small-business loans, was one reason unemployment began to decline, with more money available to hire employees. In 2012, the Congressional Budget Office implemented five tax increases and two spending cuts to take place on Jan. 1, 2013, which helped contribute to a healthier economy and inevitably helped recover jobs.

  • 2013

    - Annual unemployment rate: 7.4%

    Unemployment continued to decline, improving in every quarter of 2013 as the country recovered from the Great Recession. Congress extended unemployment benefits in January 2013 but failed to do so in December, when Recession-era protections expired.

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  • 2014

    - Annual unemployment rate: 6.2%

    The economy picked up steam in 2014, adding more jobs than any year since the 1990s. Lower gas prices and a positive outlook from American consumers drove GDP up 5% in the third quarter, and the unemployment rate dipped below 6% by the end of the year.

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  • 2015

    - Annual unemployment rate: 5.3%

    The U.S. economy saw its strongest year for growth since 2005, as the GDP grew 2.9% for the year despite stalling in the fourth quarter. The unemployment rate continued to drop in 2015, though employment growth began to slow from 2014.

  • 2016

    - Annual unemployment rate: 4.9%

    The election of Donald Trump as president in November of 2016 helped unemployment reach 4.7% in the final months of the year. The economy began to slag during the year — growing at its slowest rate since 2011—but maintained a streak of seven straight years of growth. Following Trump’s election, the stock market reached all-time highs in anticipation of his economic policies.

  • 2017

    - Annual unemployment rate: 4.4%

    The unemployment rate hit its lowest level since 2000, although Hurricanes Irma and Harvey in September caused the first month of job loss in seven years. President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act at the end of the year, paving the way for unemployment to dip below 4% for the first time since 1969.

  • 2018

    - Annual unemployment rate: 3.9%

    Neil Armstrong had only just returned from the moon the last time the U.S. job market was this strong. The simplification of the tax code through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act left more disposable income for Americans, although wage growth began to slow. The government shutdown in December was the longest in American history.

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