|Source: U.S. Census Bureau/Haver Analytics|
The unemployment rate reflects the percent of the civilian labor force that is unemployed. To be considered unemployed, an individual must be age 16 or older, without a job, have actively looked for work within the previous four weeks, and be currently available to work. The civilian labor force is the population 16 years old and over that is either employed or unemployed but excludes all inmates of institutions and persons on active duty in the Armed Forces. Importantly, the unemployment rate does not capture “discouraged workers,” those who want a job but have given up their active search for work due to poor labor market conditions. The unemployment rate is highly correlated with Gross Domestic Product, or economic performance. As the economy strengthens, the unemployment rate tends to fall, while in times of recession, unemployment rises.
New England's unemployment rate was higher than the nation's throughout much of the 1970s (not shown). By the late 1970s and through most of the 1980s, however, the region's unemployment rate fell faster and remained well below the national rate. New England kicked off the 1990s in a deep recession and experienced a three-year stint of high unemployment rates that once again surpassed the national rate. Recovering after 1993, regional unemployment declined rapidly through mid-2000 amidst the economic boom. Unemployment increased throughout the 2001 recession and peaked in 2003, at which point it fell slightly and leveled off until the 2008-2009 recession. New England's unemployment rate tracked the national rate through the 2008-2009 recession, but has diverged from the national trend throughout the recovery.
Detailed data for the United States and New England are available in our Indicators database.