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38.9 percent of unemployed in March 2023 had been searching for work for fewer than 5 weeks

April 12, 2023

There were 5.8 million people unemployed in March 2023. Of these, 38.9 percent had been searching for work for fewer than 5 weeks, while 18.9 percent had been unemployed for 27 weeks or more.

 Percent distribution of duration of unemployment, March 2018–March 2023
Month Less than 5 weeks 5 to 14 weeks 15 to 26 weeks 27 weeks or more

Mar 2018

35.7% 31.1% 12.3% 20.9%

Apr 2018

33.5 31.2 13.9 21.5

May 2018

32.7 31.8 15.3 20.2

Jun 2018

35.3 29.1 13.7 21.9

Jul 2018

31.8 29.1 16.2 22.9

Aug 2018

35.8 27.7 15.9 20.6

Sep 2018

34.0 28.4 15.4 22.2

Oct 2018

33.3 29.8 14.9 21.9

Nov 2018

35.5 29.6 14.8 20.1

Dec 2018

33.5 31.7 14.5 20.3

Jan 2019

35.7 30.7 13.6 20.0

Feb 2019

36.1 28.9 14.1 20.9

Mar 2019

35.3 29.7 13.7 21.4

Apr 2019

33.3 32.2 12.3 22.2

May 2019

36.8 27.0 13.0 23.1

Jun 2019

32.2 31.1 13.7 23.0

Jul 2019

35.0 29.6 16.0 19.5

Aug 2019

37.4 27.9 14.8 19.9

Sep 2019

32.0 30.3 15.3 22.4

Oct 2019

33.0 29.7 16.2 21.1

Nov 2019

35.0 29.6 15.4 20.0

Dec 2019

35.7 30.2 14.1 20.1

Jan 2020

34.6 30.1 14.8 20.5

Feb 2020

36.2 31.2 13.4 19.2

Mar 2020

47.8 25.5 10.2 16.5

Apr 2020

61.9 30.8 3.0 4.3

May 2020

18.6 70.8 4.8 5.7

Jun 2020

16.5 65.0 11.0 7.6

Jul 2020

19.3 31.5 39.9 9.3

Aug 2020

17.3 22.8 48.4 11.5

Sep 2020

20.1 21.6 39.2 19.1

Oct 2020

22.5 21.2 24.2 32.1

Nov 2020

23.1 22.7 17.7 36.4

Dec 2020

27.0 21.7 14.6 36.7

Jan 2021

22.3 24.6 13.1 40.1

Feb 2021

22.2 22.6 13.7 41.5

Mar 2021

22.5 20.1 13.8 43.6

Apr 2021

24.5 20.7 11.7 43.0

May 2021

21.9 23.8 13.5 40.8

Jun 2021

21.0 23.4 14.1 41.5

Jul 2021

26.0 20.4 13.9 39.8

Aug 2021

25.3 22.5 14.9 37.3

Sep 2021

29.1 22.6 13.5 34.8

Oct 2021

28.5 25.5 14.0 32.0

Nov 2021

29.4 25.3 13.4 31.9

Dec 2021

31.2 25.0 12.5 31.2

Jan 2022

37.1 24.7 12.5 25.7

Feb 2022

33.7 28.3 11.4 26.6

Mar 2022

38.6 28.3 9.2 23.9

Apr 2022

38.2 27.8 9.0 25.1

May 2022

35.0 30.2 11.7 23.0

Jun 2022

38.0 26.5 13.1 22.5

Jul 2022

36.7 31.1 12.9 19.2

Aug 2022

36.6 29.6 14.6 19.2

Sep 2022

37.3 28.4 15.6 18.8

Oct 2022

37.1 29.7 13.7 19.6

Nov 2022

37.6 28.4 13.7 20.3

Dec 2022

38.7 28.4 14.3 18.5

Jan 2023

33.9 31.1 15.5 19.4

Feb 2023

38.2 30.8 13.4 17.6

Mar 2023

38.9 29.7 12.6 18.9

As unemployment increased at the start of the pandemic, the percentage of people unemployed for fewer than 5 weeks went from 36.2 percent in February 2020 to 61.9 percent in April 2020. Eventually the share who were unemployed 27 or more weeks began rising, reaching a peak in March 2021 and then gradually falling since then. In recent months unemployment durations have been similar to their pre-pandemic averages.

These data are from the Current Population Survey and are seasonally adjusted. For more information, see “The Employment Situation — March 2023.” We also have more charts on employment and unemployment. Duration of unemployment is the length of time, in weeks, that people classified as unemployed have been continuously looking for work. The number of weeks includes the current survey reference week. These measures reflect the still-in-progress spells of unemployment, not completed spells.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, 38.9 percent of unemployed in March 2023 had been searching for work for fewer than 5 weeks at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2023/38-9-percent-of-unemployed-in-march-2023-had-been-searching-for-work-for-fewer-than-5-weeks.htm (visited May 21, 2024).

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