When exactly does our “Great Recession” become a “depression?” While I know there are certain indicators to track and measure this economic stuff, I have been wondering for some time if we are just lying to ourselves to avoid using the “D” word. The sub-prime mortgage crisis began more than four years ago, followed by the bailouts on Wall Street, and more recently the deepening financial crisis across much of Europe has caused further economic dismay.
So…I ask again, when does our Great Recession become a depression? We may “officially” have 8.2% unemployment, but everyone knows that is a totally bogus number that does not factor in underemployment or those who have given up the job search. Recent data puts underemployment at over 20% in some areas of the country and in double-digits in many places. Globally, in 2011 under employment was pegged at 18%. Data from February, 2012 showed that more than 87 million Americans were no longer looking for work! That is an astonishing number.
Sure, there are pockets of relative prosperity, but that was true in the 1930s too. Economic downturns are not necessarily universal in their application of pain and suffering – just ask a few Okies from the 1930s or my fellow Michiganders during the 2000-2010 time period. So…once again I ask this basic question – when do we start being honest with ourselves and call it a depression and not a recession?