WASHINGTON, March 9 – Factory jobs disappeared. Inflation soared. Unemployment climbed to alarming levels. The hungry lined up at soup kitchens. It wasn’t the Great Depression. It was the 1981-82 recession, widely considered America’s worst since the depression.
That painful time during Ronald Reagan’s presidency is a grim marker of how bad things can get. Yet the current recession could slice deeper into the US economy.
If it lasts into April – as it almost surely will – this one will go on record as the longest in the postwar era. The 1981-82 and 1973-75 recessions each lasted 16 months.
Unemployment hasn’t reached 1982 levels and the gross domestic product hasn’t fallen quite as far. But the hurt from this recession is spread more widely and uncertainty about the country’s economic health is worse today than it was in 1982.
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