Unemployment rate continued to drop in early 1998, then stayed down

January 11, 1999

The unemployment rate dropped from 4.6 percent in the first quarter of 1998 to 4.4 percent in the second quarter. The rate changed very little after that; the fourth quarter unemployment rate was also 4.4 percent. Month-to-month, the jobless rate remained within a narrow range of 4.3 to 4.5 percent from April 1998 onward.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, 1996-98
[Chart data—TXT]

Other measures of labor market activity also improved in 1998:

  • The number of persons unemployed 15 weeks and over declined by about 300,000 over the year.
  • The number employed part time for economic reasons (those who would have preferred full-time work) declined by about 330,000 over the year.
  • The number of marginally attached workers—those who wanted and were available for work and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months but were not counted as unemployed because they had not actually searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey—was down 257,000 over the year.

These data are a product of the Current Population Survey. More information can be found in news release USDL 99-06, "The Employment Situation: December 1998." Quarter-to-quarter comparisons are based on seasonally-adjusted data that have been revised to incorporate experience through December 1998. Over-the-year comparisons reflect adjustments for new composite estimation procedures and revised population controls that were introduced in January 1998.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Unemployment rate continued to drop in early 1998, then stayed down on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/1999/jan/wk2/art01.htm (visited September 26, 2016).


Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics

  • A look at healthcare spending, employment, pay, benefits, and prices
    As one of the largest U.S. industries, healthcare is steadily growing to meet the needs of an increasing population with an increasing life expectancy. This Spotlight looks at how much people spend on healthcare, current and projected employment in the industry, employer-provided healthcare benefits, healthcare prices, and pay for workers in healthcare occupations.

  • Employment and Wages in Healthcare Occupations
    Healthcare occupations are a significant percentage of U.S. employment. Some of the largest and highest paying occupations are in healthcare. This Spotlight examines employment and wages for healthcare occupations.

  • Fifty years of looking at changes in peoples lives
    Longitudinal surveys help us understand long-term changes, such as how events that happened when a person was in high school affect labor market success as an adult.