Saturday, March 07, 2009

In Case You Need a Means of Comparison

(Click to Embiggen)

Regarding economic health, unemployment rate is the metric everyone seems to believe is the most indicative measure. As you will notice, unemployment rates have been higher than the current 8.1% at several times in this country's recent past.

The roughly seven to eight year period between the years 1892 and 1900 are what helped spawn the rise of organized labor. Unemployment spiked again shortly after World War I in the early 1920's when European nations no longer needed to purchase war materials. The Great Depression, of course, marked the highest period of joblessness, rising as high as 1 in 5 without employment. Sustained unemployment persisted through the thirties and only began to decline when World War II began in 1939. Job loss was as high as the current day in 1975, decreased to five percent by the end of the decade, then rose again with the early eighties recession to which this current downturn is being compared.

Or, in other works, don't let the hyperbole driven by the media and those who would seek to harness financial uncertainty for its own ends fool you. These surely aren't stable times, but neither are they as catastrophic as some would have one believe. We have made it through things worse than this before and come out on the end stronger.


Anonymous said...

You know that and I know that and my boyfriend Joe knows that, but the powers-that-be in our corporate office either don't know that OR are using the ignorance of the people to their advantage - because not only did they lay off 14 people last November (including Joe), they laid off 10 more full-time people yesterday and Goddess knows how many part-timers.

And I'm just wondering if it's a matter of time before I get laid which case, I'm REALLY screwed.

Mauigirl said...

I agree, Kevin - it's bad, but not as bad as the media are trying to make us feel about it. And on a long-term scale is nothing to what FDR saw when he said he saw a third of a nation out of work.

Comrade Kevin said...


I agree with you. Lots of people are jittery about losing their jobs for the reasons you state.

But I know we will plow through this even though it will be uncomfortable for a good long while.

jadedj said...

I agree. It is becoming a chain reaction which feeds upon itself. The Roosevelt saying regards nothing to fear but fear, still holds water.

anita said...

i haven't read the book (but have read some reviews and heard a number of interviews), but doesn't naomi klein in The Shock Doctine posit that by creating fear, no, rather, TERROR, amongst the general populace, they (the people) become more pliant, more willing to give over their rights (and their thoughts) to the government simply because they feel so powerless in the face of such chaos?

Anonymous said...

The Naomi Klein reminder is apropos. But also bear in mind that this chart doesn't show (and can't show) whether the current spike in unemployment will hover around 8 to 10 percent or will continue to climb to reach something like 1933 levels. I wish I could say that the latter is improbable. But it's never been MORE probable since before World War II.