The Bureau of Labor Statistics has determined that the "headline" unemployment rate (U-3) rose 50% in 2008 to 7.2%. Other measures of unemployment rose similarly.
Many people want to compare the current dowturn to the Great Depression. A good writeup of comparative methods of measurement of unemployment, and of the different economies, is found at Fox/Business.com. You may find this interesting. The bottom line is that while the current economy is poor, it does not compare to the 1933 disaster.
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