The unemployment rate represents the percentage of the total workforce, between the working ages of 15-64, who are unemployed, but who are actively seeking work, in a specified period (monthly or yearly usually). It is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed individuals by those currently working, in a specified period. This is a closely watched measure for governments around the world, because it is a key gauge of how economies are performing.
A very low unemployment rate signals a strong economy and is used as a barometer for wage inflation and capacity utilization. A very high unemployment rate is a sign of a weak economy, including slacking capacity and falling wages.