(Updated 4/12/2012 – 2011 actual unemployment (8.9%) added. In the beginning of his presidency, Obama guessed unemployment in 2011 would be 7.1%. With a 3 year forecast error rate of 20%, it doesn’t look like unemployment forecasts by U.S. presidents are getting any more accurate, in spite of the explosive growth of predictive analytic tools & methods.)

In a matter of a few weeks, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the average unemployment rate for 2011. What’s really interesting is that every February, the President’s Office of Management and Budget also publishes their forecasts for a number of economic indicators, including unemployment. The forecast covers the current year and 10 years into the future.

Even more interestingly, the previously released forecasts going all the way back to President Ford’s administration in 1975 are available to download in a Excel spreadsheet with neatly organized worksheets for every year since then. You can download the data spreadsheet here.

Here is the data visualized: