Sunday, May 9, 2010

Today's Recession vs. The Great Depression

These are a set of visualizations from the NY Times, comparing US unemployment rates from different economic recessions, including today's current recession, as well as the great depression.

In the first graph, we can see that the current unemployment rate has already surpassed the average of all post-WWII recessions. Although scary looking at first, the second graph puts things into perspective when comparing today's rate with other greater recessions.

In this second graph, we can see that the unemployment increases so far in this recession (purple line) have still been well under the average of those for all the inter-war recessions (red line), and significantly lower than the rate during the great depression.

The major differences that emerge from the data are due to the order of magnitude and duration of the Great Depression. Although we can’t fully see how the current episode will compare until we begin to turn the corner on the current slump and move from job losses to a steady rate of job creation. As far as the graphs themselves, they are easily readable and intuitive to understand. It is easy to comprehend the data at a glance and see the clear difference in rates for each time period.

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