The Phantom Economy   /   Summer 2010   /    The Phantom Economy

Painful Numbers

followed by a painful recovery.

Joseph E. Davis

Photograph by Tyler Easton via Unsplash.

The recession of recent years has had painful consequences across the globe. In the United States, where it began, some 8 million jobs have disappeared, and countless more have been cut back (in the deep recession of 1980–1981, by contrast, 2.8 million jobs were lost). The unemployment rate, which remained under 5 percent throughout 2007, began to rise in early 2008 and climbed steadily (see Chart 1). In May 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the unemployment rate was 9.9 percent.1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The Employment Situation—April 2010” (7 May 2010). Some 15.3 million people were out of work. Of these, 6.7 million, or 46 percent of the total, had been jobless for more than 6 months, a five-fold increase in the number of long-term unemployed since the recession began in late 2007.

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