The Unemployment Deficit: It’s Really That Bad

A while ago, I snarked that ten percent U3 unemployment was the new normal. Well, Jamison Foser puts the new normal in historical context:

From 1948 through 2008, there were a total of 40 months in which the unemployment rate was 8 percent or higher. Forty months, total, in sixty years. The longest streak of 8+ percent unemployment was 27 consecutive months from November 1981 to January 1984.

Under the “rosier” long-term outlook CNN’s economists forecast for the next two years, by Election Day 2012, the unemployment rate will have been at 8.0 or higher for 46 consecutive months. That’s more than the total number of months the unemployment rate was that high from 1948-2008.

Keep in mind that, since 2008, if we exclude the 1981-1984 recession, we’ve already had more 8+ percent U3 unemployment months than we did in 57 years.
I’m making my way through James Patterson’s Freedom Is Not Enough which is about the Moynihan report. In that report, people were freaking out over a ~9-10% unemployment rate among African-Americans–this was widely viewed as leading to social catastrophe. The idea that we wouldn’t consider nine to ten percent unemployment across the board a national crisis would have been unfathomable.
And Democrats wonder why they lost.

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4 Responses to The Unemployment Deficit: It’s Really That Bad

  1. becca says:

    Given that the republicans policies were more responsible for causing this mess, yes. The democrats wonder why they lost.

  2. natural cynic says:

    Wondering may last. Memories apparently don’t.

  3. becca, the Democrats lost because the Republicans got noisy, loud and rude the minute after Obama’s election was projected on CNN in 2008. They blamed him for the slow recovery before he got into office: “Businesses are scared of the socialism that Obama is going to unleash and that is why the recovery is not happening.”
    They really followed a recipe of appealing to ignorance and using two words to win, no matter what the real problems were: “Taxes” and “Deficit.” The rest was just filler, and it worked.

  4. FrauTech says:

    Becca- there was a great segment on the latest This American Life, talking to Paul Begala and wondering why Democrats seem such poor strategists. The right is very good at pushing talking points and catch phrases and the Democrats seem willing to let the blame lay on them for an economy and a TARP program they didn’t create, it’s crazy stuff!

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