Which Political Party Has Presided Over the Highest Unemployment Rates Since 1948?

-- Elephant vs. Jack Ass - Democrats vs. Republicans --I've received a number of emails over the past few months asking if I could do a breakdown of historical national unemployment rates based on which political party is occupying the White House.

For those people - here you go.

The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) has monthly national unemployment data published on their site from January of 1948 until present day.

That's a total of 745 months worth of data.

To start - the AVERAGE monthly national unemployment rate between January, 1948 and January, 2010? 5.66%.

The highest unemployment rate posted during that time? 10.8% (November, December of 1982).

The lowest unemployment rate posted during that time? 2.5% (May, June of 1953).


Since January of 1948, Democrats have occupied the White House for a total of 313 months (out of a possible 745).

The average monthly national unemployment rate during those 313 months? 5.29%.

The Republicans, on the other hand, have occupied the White House for a total of 432 months since January of 1948 (out of a total of 745).

The average monthly national unemployment rate during those 432 months? 5.93%.

So, according to the data from BLS.gov, the national unemployment rate has been, on average, 0.64% higher when a Republican has been occupying the White House.

Here is a breakdown of each president and the average unemployment rate while they were in office:

Harry S. Truman (D) - 4.26%
Dwight D. Eisenhower (R) - 4.89%
John F. Kennedy (D) - 5.99%
Lyndon B. Johnson (D) - 4.22%
Richard Nixon (R) - 5.00%
Gerald Ford (R) - 7.77%
Jimmy Carter (D) - 6.54%
Ronald Reagan (R) - 7.54%
George H.W. Bush (R) - 6.3%
Bill Clinton (D) - 5.2%
George W. Bush (R) - 5.27%
Barack Obama (D) - 9.3%


Considering that the national unemployment rate is currently 9.7% and is not expected to drop under 9% until 2012, the Democratic average will obviously rise over the coming years.

It's interesting to note that the difference in the national unemployment rate between when Bill Clinton was president and when George W. Bush was president was less than 0.1% (5.2% vs 5.27%).

Note: in months where there was a change (for instance, Democrat out, Republican in) in terms of the political party occupying the White House, I counted the month that a party took office as part of their unemployment rate history. For instance, President Obama was sworn in January of 2009, so I counted the January 2009 unemployment rate as part of the Democrat's unemployment rate history

Source: Historical Unemployment Rates

Filed under: General Knowledge

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