Unemployment - Annual, Neighborhood-Level

Percentage of population ≥16 years who are unemployed but seeking work

American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau. Calculated by the Dashboard Team using data from 2021, 5 year estimate.
Dashboard-City Average

Why do we measure Unemployment - Annual, Neighborhood-Level?

Unemployment has well-documented negative effects on physical and mental health.1 Overall, people who are unemployed report a greater number of days of poor mental or physical health than those who are employed. People who are unemployed often report feeling a sense of low self-worth, which can lead to depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, and feeling demoralized.2,3 Unemployment is also linked to unhealthy coping behaviors, such as increased smoking and alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and unhealthy dietary habits, which can contribute to future chronic diseases.3,4 Those who are unemployed often do not have a steady income or health insurance, which are essential to maintaining good health. People who are unemployed are less likely to have access to health services and more likely to delay care because of financial concerns.2

How do we measure unemployment?

This metric includes the labor force population, age 16 and older, that is unemployed and actively seeking work.The Dashboard has two different unemployment metrics. Both are important for improving health, well-being and equity in U.S. cities. The table below shows how they are different and why we have two ways of showing unemployment.





Multi-Year Data

Data Source

Most Current Date

Update Schedule

Annual, Neighborhood-Level

American Community Survey



Current, City-Level




Local Area Unemployment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

December 2022



Strengths and Limitations

Strengths of Metric

Limitations of Metric

• Knowing the rate of unemployment allows city officials to understand the vitality of their city’s labor market, as well as potential related health issues. 

• Monitoring unemployment is important because its health impacts become more severe over time.2

• This metric is available broken down by race and ethnicity, which can help target resources and interventions for groups that historically have been underrepresented.

• This metric does not include workers who are unemployed and have given up on finding work.3

• Unemployment rates do not provide information on underemployment. Underemployment is when individuals work in jobs that do not fully use their skills or provide inadequate hours or compensation. Underemployment is also associated with adverse health effects.4

• Race and ethnicity data are often collected using discrete options that may not account for all or multiple identities, leading to undercounting of those who are more likely to select "other."


Unemployment is calculated by the following formula:

unemployment annual neighborhood calculation

For more information on the calculation, please refer to the City Health Dashboard Technical Document.

Data Source

Estimates for this metric are from American Community Survey data using the S2301 table. Multi-year data are available for this metric. For more information, please refer to Using Multi-Year Data: Tips and Cautions


  1. Wilson SH, Walker GM. Unemployment and health: a review. Public health. 1993;107(3):153-162.

  2. Pharr JR, Moonie S, Bungum TJ. The Impact of Unemployment on Mental and Physical Health, Access to Health Care and Health Risk Behaviors. ISRN Public Health. 2012;2012:7.

  3. Dooley D, Fielding J, Levi L. Health and unemployment. Annu Rev Public Health. 1996;17:449-465.

  4. Rosenthal L, Carroll-Scott A, Earnshaw VA, Santilli A, Ickovics JR. The importance of full-time work for urban adults' mental and physical health. Soc Sci Med. 2012;75(9):1692-1696.

Last updated: July 27, 2023