Special Report

How Ohio's Job Market Compared to the US Over the Last 47 Years

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In an era of economic uncertainty, the U.S. job market remains resilient. After falling to 3.7% in November 2023, the national unemployment rate has been below 4% for 22 consecutive months, the longest streak in over 50 years.

Of course, if history is any guide, much of the economy is subject to boom and bust cycles — and the job market is no exception. Since the mid-1970s, the average annual unemployment rate in the U.S. has fluctuated between 3.6% and nearly 10%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These same cyclical patterns are also evident in Ohio, where the job market is supported largely by the manufacturing and retail trade industries. The annual unemployment rate in the state was 4.0% in 2022, a multi-decade low. However, conditions for job seekers have not always been so favorable.

According to historical BLS data going back to 1976, the annual jobless rate has been as high as 12.7% in Ohio. More than once, unemployment in the state has either matched or come close to that peak.

This is how Ohio’s job market has changed in each of the last 47 years.

1976: 7.8% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 7.8% (7.7% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 61.5% (61.6% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 369,119

1977: 6.5% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 6.5% (7.1% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 61.8% (62.3% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 312,688

1978: 5.5% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 5.5% (6.1% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 62.8% (63.2% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 273,327

1979: 5.8% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 5.8% (5.8% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 63.6% (63.7% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 297,430

1980: 8.4% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 8.4% (7.1% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 63.4% (63.8% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 421,192

1981: 9.4% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 9.4% (7.6% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 63.7% (63.9% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 490,849

1982: 12.7% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 12.7% (9.7% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 63.7% (64.0% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 643,816

1983: 12.4% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 12.4% (9.6% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 63.6% (64.0% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 631,030

1984: 9.5% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 9.5% (7.5% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 63.5% (64.4% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 483,162

1985: 8.9% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 8.9% (7.2% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 63.7% (64.8% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 459,413

1986: 8.3% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 8.3% (7.0% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 64.4% (65.3% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 433,271

1987: 7.1% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 7.1% (6.2% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 64.5% (65.6% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 373,425

1988: 6.0% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 6.0% (5.5% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 64.7% (65.9% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 320,814

1989: 5.5% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 5.5% (5.3% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 65.5% (66.5% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 301,821

1990: 5.6% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 5.6% (5.6% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 65.7% (66.5% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 312,096

1991: 6.5% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 6.5% (6.8% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 65.3% (66.2% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 352,932

1992: 7.4% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 7.4% (7.5% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 65.9% (66.4% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 407,362

1993: 6.6% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 6.6% (6.9% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 65.6% (66.3% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 367,204

1994: 5.6% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 5.6% (6.1% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.0% (66.6% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 315,490

1995: 4.8% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 4.8% (5.6% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.1% (66.6% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 273,075

1996: 5.0% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 5.0% (5.4% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.4% (66.8% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 283,204

1997: 4.6% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 4.6% (4.9% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.9% (67.1% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 265,367

1998: 4.3% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 4.3% (4.5% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.6% (67.1% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 248,493

1999: 4.3% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 4.3% (4.2% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 67.0% (67.1% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 248,882

2000: 4.0% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 4.0% (4.0% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 67.0% (67.1% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 237,102

2001: 4.3% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 4.3% (4.7% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 67.2% (66.8% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 254,737

2002: 5.7% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 5.7% (5.8% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.9% (66.6% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 337,401

2003: 6.2% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 6.2% (6.0% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 67.0% (66.2% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 364,037

2004: 6.3% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 6.3% (5.5% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.6% (66.0% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 366,496

2005: 5.9% unemployment

Source: Ed Jackson / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. unemployment rate: 5.9% (5.1% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 66.7% (66.0% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 349,262

2006: 5.4% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 5.4% (4.6% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 67.2% (66.2% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 321,252

2007: 5.6% unemployment

Source: benedek / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. unemployment rate: 5.6% (4.6% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 67.6% (66.0% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 337,945

2008: 6.4% unemployment

Source: StanRohrer / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. unemployment rate: 6.4% (5.8% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 67.2% (66.0% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 393,367

2009: 10.3% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 10.3% (9.3% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 65.9% (65.4% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 600,044

2010: 10.3% unemployment

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  • Avg. unemployment rate: 10.3% (9.6% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 65.5% (64.7% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 604,169

2011: 8.8% unemployment

Source: Oralleff / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. unemployment rate: 8.8% (8.9% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 64.2% (64.1% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 509,752

2012: 7.4% unemployment

Source: espiegle / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. unemployment rate: 7.4% (8.1% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 63.3% (63.7% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 422,083

2013: 7.5% unemployment

Source: Ed Jackson / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. unemployment rate: 7.5% (7.4% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 63.0% (63.2% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 425,318

2014: 5.8% unemployment

Source: benedek / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images
  • Avg. unemployment rate: 5.8% (6.2% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 62.8% (62.9% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 331,389

2015: 4.9% unemployment

Source: benedek / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. unemployment rate: 4.9% (5.3% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 62.6% (62.7% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 282,926

2016: 5.0% unemployment

Source: StanRohrer / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. unemployment rate: 5.0% (4.9% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 62.8% (62.8% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 290,383

2017: 5.0% unemployment

Source: bryanakers / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. unemployment rate: 5.0% (4.4% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 63.0% (62.9% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 289,496

2018: 4.5% unemployment

Source: pawel.gaul / E+ via Getty Images
  • Avg. unemployment rate: 4.5% (3.9% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 62.8% (62.9% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 261,865

2019: 4.1% unemployment

Source: Oralleff / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. unemployment rate: 4.1% (3.7% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 63.2% (63.1% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 244,879

2020: 8.1% unemployment

Source: espiegle / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. unemployment rate: 8.1% (8.1% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 61.6% (61.7% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 473,768

2021: 5.1% unemployment

Source: Ed Jackson / iStock via Getty Images
  • Avg. unemployment rate: 5.1% (5.3% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 61.4% (61.7% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 293,954

2022: 4.0% unemployment

Source: benedek / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images
  • Avg. unemployment rate: 4.0% (3.6% nationwide)
  • Labor force participation rate: 61.5% (62.2% nationwide)
  • Unemployed population in Ohio: 230,950

Source: 24/7 Wall St.

Year Ohio unemployment rate U.S. unemployment rate Unemployed population in Ohio
1976 7.8 7.7 369,119
1977 6.5 7.1 312,688
1978 5.5 6.1 273,327
1979 5.8 5.8 297,430
1980 8.4 7.1 421,192
1981 9.4 7.6 490,849
1982 12.7 9.7 643,816
1983 12.4 9.6 631,030
1984 9.5 7.5 483,162
1985 8.9 7.2 459,413
1986 8.3 7.0 433,271
1987 7.1 6.2 373,425
1988 6.0 5.5 320,814
1989 5.5 5.3 301,821
1990 5.6 5.6 312,096
1991 6.5 6.8 352,932
1992 7.4 7.5 407,362
1993 6.6 6.9 367,204
1994 5.6 6.1 315,490
1995 4.8 5.6 273,075
1996 5.0 5.4 283,204
1997 4.6 4.9 265,367
1998 4.3 4.5 248,493
1999 4.3 4.2 248,882
2000 4.0 4.0 237,102
2001 4.3 4.7 254,737
2002 5.7 5.8 337,401
2003 6.2 6.0 364,037
2004 6.3 5.5 366,496
2005 5.9 5.1 349,262
2006 5.4 4.6 321,252
2007 5.6 4.6 337,945
2008 6.4 5.8 393,367
2009 10.3 9.3 600,044
2010 10.3 9.6 604,169
2011 8.8 8.9 509,752
2012 7.4 8.1 422,083
2013 7.5 7.4 425,318
2014 5.8 6.2 331,389
2015 4.9 5.3 282,926
2016 5.0 4.9 290,383
2017 5.0 4.4 289,496
2018 4.5 3.9 261,865
2019 4.1 3.7 244,879
2020 8.1 8.1 473,768
2021 5.1 5.3 293,954
2022 4.0 3.6 230,950

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