Five charts help explain the state of unemployment in America today
With 66 consecutive months of growth, the U.S. is in the midst of one of its longest-lasting periods of economic expansion since 1850. In 2014, unemployment dropped to 5.6 percent—making it the best year for job growth since 2007. Yet these national indicators mask the unevenness of the recovery, particularly for many lower- and middle-class Americans: the labor force participation rate hit its lowest rate since 1978, wages have stagnated despite significant productivity gains, and median household net worth has either stagnated or declined.
On Tuesday the Clinton Global Initiative will convene to discuss a myriad of issues, including how middle and lower class Americans have been underserved by the recent period of economic growth.Here are five charts from Find The Best that help explain that reality in visual terms.
The unemployment rate spiked in 2009 and 2010 shortly after President Obama took office. The rate has since slowly declined over the last five years.
The unemployment rate has been declining at the same time that the labor force participation rate has seen a drop off. While this doesn't account for the entirety of the drop in the unemployment rate since 2010, it's a factor, as fewer people are considered unemployed when they drop out of the labor force and stop officially looking for work. This is why economic experts often talk about the real unemployment rate, which is closer to 10 percent.
Unemployment disparities exist across racial lines and education lines, even as the rate has dropped. For those who have a bachelor's degree, the unemployment rate has been under five percent since 2010. For those who never obtained a high school diploma, the rate has dropped from around 15 percent to less than 10 percent during the same time period, but it's still higher than anyone who's achieved a better education.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate has been more favorable to Americans of Asian decent than anyone else over the same time period. With the exception of a brief period in early 2014, Asian-Americans have seen greater employment than White Americans. Latino and African-Americans have seen the highest levels of unemployment, with the black unemployment rate only recently falling under 10 percent.
Some states have a better employment situation than others. If you live in Nebraska or North Dakota, job prospects are better than average. Same goes for Texas, Idaho, Utah and much of the Midwest. Southern and Western states have seen higher unemployment levels