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  • Writer's pictureRobert Baharian

This one chart...US unemployment rate & party

Fed Official Warns of 30% Unemployment - US News

We have not seen such levels of unemployment in the last 70 year. Although the unemployment rate did reach almost 14% during the height of the COVID crisis. Since reaching it's new 70 year peak, the US unemployment rate has retraced back to 7.9%.

Since WWII no President has gone into an election with a higher unemployment rate than today’s (using September’s number for each election).

Presidents Ford (7.6%) and Carter (7.5%) were perhaps unlucky to seek re-election at a time of high structural unemployment, while George Bush Senior's (7.6%) re-election campaign in 1992 occurred in the immediate aftermath of the early ‘90s recession before unemployment could fall.

President Obama (7.8%) saw high unemployment just ahead of his 2012 re-election but he didn’t seem to get much of the blame for the GFC that started four years earlier and was fortunate to see unemployment consistently come down from the peak during his first term.

What we've seen since 1950 is that unemployment rises primarily during a Republican Presidency, and primary declines during a Democratic Presidency. During the last 70 years, we have seen only one (mild) recession during a Democratic Presidency - President Carter. All other US recessions have been under a Republican President.


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