Chart showing: US Unemployment Rate by Industry

US Unemployment Rate by Industry

Unemployment rates are a strong indicator of a market’s performance and are key to understanding its potential. If you’re thinking about starting a business in the United States, knowing what the latest unemployment rates are according to industry can help guide your decision on what sector to break into. Here’s a look at a recent analysis of unemployment rates by industry. 

Unemployment rate by industry: top five

According to the latest numbers published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the leisure and hospitality industry currently has the highest unemployment rate. As of December 2023, this figure stands at 4.8%, which means that around one out of every 21 people aged 16 and above working in this sector is out of work. This equates to a workforce of 662,000 people, and represents a 0.6 percentage point fall from the previous year’s unemployment rate.

Second on the list charting unemployment rate by industry is construction. 4.4% of workers in this sector are unemployed, which is around 442,000 people. This is the same rate from a year ago in December 2022. This is followed by the wholesale and retail trade industry, which has an unemployment rate of 4%. This is also the sector with the highest number of unemployed workers, currently at 810,000. Transportation and utilities and professional and business services complete the five industries with the highest unemployment rates—3.9% of people in these two lines of business are jobless.

Unemployment rate by industry: others

Next on the ranking of unemployment rate by industry is information, with 3.1%, a 0.7 percentage point annual increase. The manufacturing sector follows. It has a rate of 3%, which accounts for 456,000 unemployed people.

Here are the other industries and their unemployment rates in December 2023:

  1. Financial activities: 2.9%
  2. Education and health services: 2.2%
  3. Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction: 1.7%
  4. Other services: 3.5%

Of all the industries, the only one whose unemployment rate held steady from the previous year is construction. Meanwhile, three experienced an annual decrease: 

  • Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction: 1.9% to 1.7%
  • Transportation and utilities: 4% to 3.9%
  • Leisure and hospitality: 5.4% to 4.8%

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