Posts with tag depression

Last Two Recessions: A Study of Contrasts

Guest Writer, July 19 2023

We recall how the Covid pandemic upended our lives and economy – as well as those of people around the world.

The largely mandated shutdowns in early 2020 caused a devastating reduction of economic activity and huge job losses not seen since the Great Depression.

The downturn came as government restrictions and citizens’ fear of the virus kept people at home and businesses and schools shut – both here and abroad. 

Workers in jobs that paid lower wages and required face-to-face encounters with consumers – in the hospitality and retail industries, for example – were especially affected.

Those facing massive employment and earnings losses were disproportionately women, workers of color, workers without a college degree, and foreign-born workers.

Congress, the White House and the Federal Reserve enacted significant fiscal and monetary relief measures in 2020 and 2021 to prevent the economy from facing a depression and to relieve hardships faced by everyday Americans. 

Most economists agree that those actions helped fuel an economic recovery starting as early as May 2020, making the deepest recession in the post-World War II era also the shortest. 

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the consensus arbiter of official business-cycle dating, the economic downturn lasted just two months – March and April 2020. 

On the one hand, the CBPP says the expansion in economic activity in the recovery from the pandemic recession was stronger and quicker than initial forecasts.

Those cautious projections may have been tainted by the Great Recession of 2007-2009, which at the time was the worst recession since the Great Depression.

The recovery from which also was disappointingly slow, with high unemployment – in the range of 6-9% – lasting several years after the economy began to grow (see chart above). 

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