Why The Great Recovery Feels Like Crap

1928-great-depression2The Great Recession still feels like crap, doesn’t it?  Well… there’s a reason for that.

Calculated Risk has to be one of the best econ blogs out there.  Raw data, no nonsense, 80-proof straight to the gut economic data.  Bill McBride over at CalcRisk gives you a one-shot look at why the Great Recession is getting better, but doesn’t feel that way:

This graph shows the duration of unemployment as a percent of the civilian labor force. The graph shows the number of unemployed in four categories: less than 5 week, 6 to 14 weeks, 15 to 26 weeks, and 27 weeks or more.

The general trend is down for all categories, and the “less than 5 weeks”, “6 to 14 weeks” and “15 to 26 weeks” are all close to normal levels.

The long term unemployed is less than 1.4% of the labor force, however the number (and percent) of long term unemployed remains elevated.

What does this graph look like, you ask?


When there’s talk of America’s true unemployment rate (U-6) vs. the official unemployment rate (U-2), this is what folks are talking about — the underemployed and unemployed who have fallen away from the job market altogether.

Calculated Risk might jog your memory a bit.  Why is that?  Because it is also the creator of the now-legendary “Chart of Doom” that percolated throughout the financial market in 2008.

How does it look today?

Well, one might be surprised to learn that we recovered from the Great Recession in May 2014:


That’s how bad it was.  That’s how bad it still is…

Of course, the longer the recession, the longer the recovery.  So goes conventional wisdom.  That having been said, the same interminable fissures that created the 2007/8 crisis still remain firmly in place today — just with the radio dial turned all the way down.

…but the fact of the matter is, for many families, the Great Recovery hasn’t approached and isn’t even on the horizon.  As one can see from the chart above, our U-6 unemployed is at what in the past would have been the high water mark of most other recessions.

That’s real pain, folks.

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