The U.S. unemployment rate stood at 7.9% in January this year. This rate has not changed much since September of 2012. Based on this official figure, currently there 12.3 million unemployed individuals in the country. The actual unemployment rate is much higher since the official rate drops out many unemployed persons such as those that stopped looking for work.
The labor-force participation rate was just 63.6% in January. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was about unchanged at 4.7 million and accounted for 38.1 % of the unemployed according to BLS data.
Here is a chart showing the U.S. unemployment rate by month since 1948:
Click to enlarge
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
At the height of the global financial crisis in 2009, the rate reached 10%. Though the unemployment rate has slowly declined it is still stubbornly high at over 8.0%. The rate exceeded 10% during the 1980s as shown in the chart above.