How do the job losses during this horrible recession compare to past recessions? There are a couple of graphs at this post at Calculated Risk that provide some context. More people have lost their jobs in this point in the recession than any other recession since WWII: 3.6 million. That’s actually more than any other maximum loss. The 1982 recession came close with 2.8 million people.
When job losses as a percentage of work force is examined, this recession is in the top 30%. We just passed the percentage reached in the 1981 recession: 2.5%. At this same point in time, only three recessions were worse: the 1953, 1958 and 1948 recessions. The total number of workers has obviously increased since then, so more people would have to lose their jobs before the percentage in this recession got to 4% or 5%.
I doubt undocumented workers were counted in any of these calculations. I would imagine the actual total of people who have lost their jobs, documented and undocumented, would come much closer to previous steep job losses.
Also clear in the graphs: the last three recessions took much longer to recover from than did previous recessions. Maybe because we don’t actually make things in this country the way we did in the immediate post-WWII era. If things aren’t made in the U.S., U.S. workers have nothing to do, limiting the job recovery that would otherwise occur. How patriotic of the pro-job off-shoring crowd.