I present, without comment, a petite histoire graphique of the unemployment rate in the United States. The median is 5.5 percent.

Sources: Statistical Abstracts of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970, Series D85-D86 (http://www2.census.gov/prod2/statcomp/documents/CT1970p1-05.pdf) and Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Status of the Civilian Noninstitutional Population, 1942 to date (ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/special.requests/lf/aat1.txt). Rate for July 2008 used as the average for 2008.