Job Losses

Job losses to date compared to other recessions, from Calculated Risk, via the Big Picture, with a bit of my annotation.


Not a great predictor yet, because we don't know where the bottom is.  But I do find it interesting how symmetric past recessions are - in other words, the time and slope back out of the trough seems surprisingly similar to the time to reach bottom.


  1. Jody:

    It's almost as if every recession there's some fundamental shift that the market has to make, moving employment from one sector to another. So that delaying or counteracting that shift only serves to lengthen the recession.

    I wonder if that has any applicability to the current effort to throw trillions of dollars to mitigate the ongoing sectorial shifts out of home construction and finance (and domestically-owned auto production).

  2. Richard Sharpe:

    Don't you expect the curves to be pretty much symmetric?

    The inertia or friction is much the same whether the slope is positive or negative.

    That is, the system simply cannot move quickly either on the way down or on the way up.

  3. jsmoke:

    A little scary that the 3 most recent recessions (2001, 1990, 1981) took the longest to recover from.

    What was the juice they used in 1949? That seems to have been a pretty quick jolt.

  4. m:

    I posted on this graph (the Pelosi) version here.

    That measurement is completely flawed and the way Pelosi presented it, it tells the opposite of what's really going on.

  5. John Dewey:


    The pre-1960 workforce was much different than that of the past 30 years. Back then, a much larger percentage worked in factories. Economic slowdowns caused temporary oversupplies of finished goods, causing factories to be idled and factory workers to be furloughed. As soon as inventories were cleared out, workers were quickly rehired.

    Today, automation has taken over much of our nation's production. When plants are idled, the employment impact is not nearly as great. For the same reason, reignition of production does not result in the immediate rehire of millions of furloughed workers.

    My guess is that service-oriented businesses will make both layoff and rehire decisions at a slower pace than did the 1940 and 1950 factory managers. In the earlier era of labor intensive production, finished goods inventories provided management with clear direction about manpower requirements. It's not as easy today.

  6. Lorenzo:

    It is good to see things being put in their historical context. Love a good revealing graph :)

  7. Greg:

    I am colorblind I can't get anything out of this graph. A short explanation would be nice.