10% unemployment, then and now

Here, by the numbers, are some ways how those out of work have changed since the last time unemployment reached 10 percent from September 1982-June 1983:



10.7% - Unemployment rate in October 2009

9.5% -September 1982


8.1% -October 2009

8.4% -September 1982

ANALYSIS: The greater disparity between men and women in this recession reflects the heavy impact of layoffs in male-dominated fields, such as construction and manufacturing. Industries with higher female employment, namely education and health care, have actually added jobs during the recession.


15.7% -October 2009

19.7% -September 1982

ANALYSIS: Unemployment among African-Americans still is higher than the nationwide rate, though lower than in 1982. That reflects both good and bad trends: There is a much larger black professional middle class that is less subject to layoffs than was the case 26 years ago, but more African-American men have dropped out of the labor force after giving up looking for work.


6.8% - Percentage of unemployed with college degree in September 1982

14.7% - Percentage in October 2009

ANALYSIS: College graduates still have much lower jobless rates than those with less education. Job cuts in the financial industry and in high-skilled manufacturing, such as the aerospace industry, have caught up with them. And companies in all sectors are more willing to cut middle managers than in previous recessions, which affects college graduates.


September 1982

Michigan -15.8%

West Virginia - 15.6%

Alabama -13.8%

Ohio - 13.1%

Illinois -12.2%

September 2009

Michigan -15.3%

Nevada - 13.3%

Rhode Island -13%

California -12.2%

South Carolina - 11.6%

ANALYSIS: Manufacturers in the Rust Belt were hit particularly hard in the early 1980s, putting Midwestern states such as Michigan, Ohio and Illinois in the top 5. While Michigan again has the nation's highest unemployment today, states like Nevada and California are suffering from the housing bubble.


16.6 weeks - Average length of unemployment in September 1982

26.9 weeks - Average length in October 2009, a record

ANALYSIS: More than a third of the jobless in October were unemployed for six months or more, compared with less than 18 percent in September 1982. One reason is that layoffs were more likely to be temporary back then, as manufacturers furloughed workers until demand returned.