The U.S. unemployment rate skyrocketed to 14.7% in April 2020 when the economy shut down in response to the pandemic. This was by far the highest rate since the current tracking system began in 1948. Fortunately, employment has recovered at a record pace — the unemployment rate was just 3.6% in March, April, and May 2022, nearly the same as before the pandemic.

The official unemployment rate only reflects unemployed workers who are actively looking for a job. A broader measure that captures workers who want a job but are not actively looking, as well as part-time workers who want full-time work, dropped from 22.9% in April 2020 to 7.1% in May 2022.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022; National Bureau of Economic Research, 2022

 

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