November’s 6.7% Unemployment Rate Lower Than Any Month of Obama’s First Term

Terence P. Jeffrey | December 4, 2020 | 9:43am EST
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(Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

( - The 6.7 percent unemployment rate that the United States had in November was lower than the unemployment rate for any month during President Barack Obama’s first four years in office, according to the data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In fact, the unemployment rate never dropped below 7.7 percent in Obama’s first term in office, and was climbing upward as that term came to an end.

In January 2013, when Obama was inaugurated for his second term, the unemployment rate was 8.0 percent.


When Barack Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, the economy was in a recession that had started in December 2007 and would not end until June of 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

In January 2009, the month of Obama’s first term began, the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent. By October of that year it had climbed to 10.0 percent.

It stayed above 9 percent for all of 2010 and most of 2011—finally dropping to 8.8 percent in October 2011.

Below are the seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rates since January 2009 as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

In September 2012, as Obama’s first term approached an end, the unemployment rate finally fell below 8 percent, hitting 7.8 percent.

But then by January 2013, it had risen again to 8.0 percent.  By the end of 2013, the first year of Obama’s second term, it had dropped to 6.7 percent—the rate it saw in November of this year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By the time that President Donald Trump was inaugurated in January 2016, the unemployment rate had dropped to 4.7 percent.

During Trump’s presidency, the unemployment rate continued on a generally downward trend through February of this year—when the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent.

That was the lowest unemployment rate in more than 50 years. The last time the unemployment rate was as low as 3.5 percent was in December 1969.

In March, with the COVID-19 pandemic underway, the unemployment rate increased to 4.4 percent. Then in April it spiked to 14.7 percent. But in May, it started down again, declining to 13.3 percent.

Since then, it has been consistently declining, dropping to 11.1 percent in June, 10.2 percent in July, 8.4 percent in August, 7.9 percent in September, 6.9 percent in October and 6.7 percent in November.

“The unemployment rate,” says BLS, “represents the number of unemployed people as a percentage of the labor force (the labor force is the sum of the employed and unemployed).”

“Unemployed” people, as defined by BLS, are people 16 years and older who did not have a job in the past month but actively sought one.


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