Economic Snapshot | Economic Growth

Unemployment and job-creation rates in current expansion

A weekly presentation of downloadable charts and short analyses designed to graphically illustrate important economic issues. Updated every Wednesday.

Snapshot for March 29, 2000

Unemployment and job-creation rates in current expansion

The average unemployment rate over the current business-cycle expansion (which began in March 1991) is 5.8%. This rate is a substantial improvement over the average unemployment rates in the previous two expansions — 7.1% in 1975-81 and 6.9% in 1982-90 — but worse than the rate achieved in four of the five preceding expansions.

Job-creation rates in the current expansion are actually the lowest in the entire postwar period. Since March 1991, the economy has been creating new jobs at an average annual rate of 1.6%. This is slower than the average growth in the expansions of the 1980s (2.4%) and the 1970s (3.1% and 2.6%), as well as all previous postwar recoveries (1.9-2.6%).

Source: From The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) homepage, “US Business Cycle Expansions and Contractions.” The March 1975 through January 1980 and July 1980 through July 1981 recoveries were combined for the purposes of this graph. All post-WWII recoveries were included except October 1945 through November 1948. (

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