[ uhn-em-ploi-muhnt ]
/ ˌʌn ɛmˈplɔɪ mənt /
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the state of being unemployed, especially involuntarily: Automation poses a threat of unemployment for many unskilled workers.
the number of persons who are unemployed.
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Origin of unemployment

First recorded in 1885–90; un-1 + employment

OTHER WORDS FROM unemployment

an·ti·un·em·ploy·ment, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does unemployment mean?

Unemployment is the state of not having a paid job—of being unemployed.

Unemployment is also commonly used in the context of economics to mean the total number of people unemployed, such as in a country, as in Unemployment is down this quarter, with thousands of new jobs having been created. The opposite of this is employment—the total number of people who are employed. Employment also commonly means the state of being employed.

The word unemployment is sometimes used as a short and informal way of referring to an unemployment benefit, which is an allowance of money paid to unemployed workers, such as by the government. People receiving such a benefit are often said to be receiving unemployment.

Example: Unemployment is extremely stressful when you go months without any job prospects. 

Where does unemployment come from?

The first records of the word unemployment come from the 1880s. Its base word, employ, ultimately derives from the Latin implicāre, meaning “to engage” (the word engage is sometimes used to mean “to hire” or “to employ”).

When unemployment refers to the total number of people who are not employed, it’s often used in news reports that discuss employment reports and whether unemployment or unemployment numbers are “up” (meaning the total has increased since the last time it was measured) or “down” (meaning it has decreased).

Unemployment is sometimes discussed along with underemployment. A person who is underemployed has a job, but is not working full-time or as many hours as they want to be.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to unemployment?

What are some words that share a root or word element with unemployment


What are some words that often get used in discussing unemployment?

How is unemployment used in real life?

Unemployment is always used in the context of jobs: not having a job, how many people don’t have jobs, and the monetary support those people sometimes get.

Try using unemployment!

Is unemployment used correctly in the following sentence?

Unemployment has been up for the last three quarters, but it’s expected to start decreasing.

How to use unemployment in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for unemployment

/ (ˌʌnɪmˈplɔɪmənt) /

the condition of being unemployed
the number of unemployed workers, often as a percentage of the total labour force
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012