“Great” Recession vs. “Great” Depression

A chart comparing our current recession to the great depression. As you can see, they are not close.

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38 Responses to ““Great” Recession vs. “Great” Depression”


  1. 1 ronanlyons April 23, 2009 at 9:20 AM

    Would you not feel that this is a bit myopic, no? A more accurate comparison would be comparing now, 1 year into the Great Recession – if that’s not an oxymoron – with 1 year into the Great Depression.

    An even more accurate comparison would be looking at the world rather than just the US.

    For some charts that do both – and that are a LOT less optimistic than yours, even if they are ultimately optimistic – see:
    http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/3421

    R

  2. 2 LEONARDO SANCHEZ April 23, 2009 at 1:21 PM

    16 money saving tips from the Great Depression

    Yes, these Tips may help alot of people to go on the right track. Including myself. i had to readjust a statement

    like “Living off other means of income” if this was possible in our life time in this recession then alot of people would have 2

    or more jobe. In this case it is hard to do that. i would rename or put it as “Working and mataining your job tips”. In any case

    these tips will help people not to spend money in shopping but if where talking like an economics person then i would tell

    people spend money to save the economy but save enough to live of your income. Thats the reason why where in the lows in this

    economy becasue everyone is saving. Of course this is my opinion on the tips an the way i would rename them to help the economy.

  3. 3 Heidi11 April 25, 2009 at 10:36 AM

    I think that the chart illustrates how greatly the current economic downturn is being blown out of proportion by the media. The fear people are experiencing, exacerbated by the doomsday prophecies delivered by talking heads in the media, has made the situation much worse than it is, or at least makes it feel that way. Of course, there is no denying that our economy is in bad shape, but economies move in cycles; while its unfortunate that many people have lost jobs or are worried about how to pay their bills, sensationalizing the recession by comparing it to something much worse is a premature reaction that is doing nothing but inciting fear and desperation.

  4. 4 Linda Villasenor April 25, 2009 at 11:42 AM

    Wow! I thought that what we were going through was something close to the great depression. I knew that it wasn’t as bad as the great depression but something close to it. The great depression was far worse than what we are going through. They had 50% of their banks go bankrupt and we only have like .05 percent which is about 47 banks! I think that everyone in this country should take a look at this chart so they can see how different it is so they won’t panic. Also the unemployment rate was 25% that is a big difference from today’s unemployment rate of 8.5%.

  5. 5 Nancy Moussa April 26, 2009 at 3:34 PM

    Living through this recession, I have heard lots of scary remarks that we are heading into a depression. Reading this artical has helped me to understand that what were going through now is bad, but could be much worse. Even though we are better off then people were during the depression, we still need to take our standing seriously, so that we don’t end up in a bigger mess (depression).

  6. 6 Carl Hernandez April 26, 2009 at 8:14 PM

    i think we are living in a depression. Because i beieleve all the banks are bankrupt and that they are just covering up there balance sheets to make it look like there doing fine. The stress test that is coming out is not going to help because i think the banks are going to give false numbers to make it sound like everything is doing great so nobody will panic therefore i think we are in a great depression.

  7. 7 jordan April 27, 2009 at 3:27 PM

    Looking at the difference in those number is shocking! We have all heard the comparison relentlessly for the las year or more, so it was easy to assume that we were even worse off than we actually are. Not to down play our current state in the economy, but hopefully things will continue to get better instead of worse, and we can ultimately avoid getting to that point.

  8. 8 Ally S. April 28, 2009 at 9:31 AM

    I found the comparison between this economic recession and the Great Depression by David Goldman, to be very interesting. While the Great Depression clearly differs then today’s economic situation, there might be some reasons as to why these statistics are so far off from each other. While it is true that such topics as Unemployment rate (16.5%) and Economic decline (24.8) have numbers that are higher than today’s great recession, this could be because of the difference in population count. But despite this fact, it seems as if we are still better off then we were during the 1930s. Also, based on the link towards the bottom of the page Great Recession or a new Depression, economists generally agree that while this is the worst economy since the Great Depression, the chances of the economy falling into another depression are slim.

  9. 9 Marilyn Monroe April 29, 2009 at 8:48 AM

    The media completely blows up this economic situation into something that is not. By reading this article I was able to better understand what is truly going on in this time of recession. This “Great Recession” is nothing like the Great Depression in fact we are not where close to the Great Depression. We are far better off then when the Great Depression occurred in the 1930s.

  10. 10 ronanlyons April 29, 2009 at 9:08 AM

    Marilyn, Jordan, Nancy, Linda:

    Please please please, just have a quick read of this:
    http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/3421
    I’m not saying we’re in a direct repeat of the Great Depression, but we’re only just a year into this recession. The comparison above should be with just a year into the Great Depression.

    If the recession finishes in the next 6 months, I’ll be delighted to come back and say “Boy, this was nothing like the 1930s.”

    But so far, it’s exactly like it, in terms of global economic impact – in fact some ways it’s faster. Thankfully the response by governments has been better, so hopefully that will have an impact.

  11. 11 Rafael Barrera April 29, 2009 at 11:57 AM

    I agree with ronanlyons 100%. I looked that the chart and just started thinking right away that things are different now than they were back then. And you really have to compare 1 year in. http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/3421

    What a great link!

  12. 12 Andrea Nemeth April 29, 2009 at 1:56 PM

    wow after looking at that i am wondering why they decided to compare them in the first place. they are no where close. it was much more damaging back in the depression then now days. its sad to see how the media makes things bigger then they really need to be.

  13. 13 lalves May 3, 2009 at 7:34 AM

    It is obvious that the media and many people in society has blown this recession out of proportion. Clearly, we are not anywhere near the depression and as of right now it seems like the economy may be on an upturn. The governments involvement in the recession seems to appear to be better for our current economic situation, but in the long run is bad. I say this because the government is lending so much money right now in order to solve the short run problems that they don’t realize the debt they are causing for future generations.

  14. 14 Emily Bonzi May 4, 2009 at 2:05 PM

    I did not realize how vast the differences were between the recession we our currently facing and the depression in the 1930s. I hear a lot of talk about people claiming the economic predicament in our country is getting closer and closer to a depression, but after viewing that chart, I would advise everyone to beware before yelling fire in the theatre.

  15. 15 Nikolas Bunton May 5, 2009 at 11:43 AM

    Obviously, our whole economic situation has been blown out of proportions. Not to say that it isn’t a big deal, but it isn’t nearly the problem we had in the 1930’s during the Great Depression. This is simply a recession that will pass with time. The mere fact that over 9,000 banks failed compared to the 57 that have closed today is confirmation enough. Unemployment was almost three times as bad, and the economic decline was over 20% more than it is today. All of this information points to one key concept that we as a nation must hold a grip on: we have not entered the realm of an actual depression by a long shot. So far, things are a lot more under control. Lets just hope they stay that way.

  16. 16 Euan Brown May 5, 2009 at 12:54 PM

    The chart is a good example and shows very clearly the TRUE state that our economy is in. The problem that we have is that the media take the situation and completely blow it out of proportion. THis causes a huge panic and does not help anyone.

  17. 17 Luis A. May 5, 2009 at 5:28 PM

    it shows that the federal bank issued 125% money compared to the great depression. Is in it bad if we start getting all this money from the fed. In the end it will cause inflation, and then that is going to be are next problem. i do concur with Euan that the media has taken this problem and blown it out to scare people not to spend. Someone should try to control the medias control over people.

  18. 18 Kelsey Ryan May 6, 2009 at 12:17 PM

    When the recession started in 2007 until now, people have tried to make similarities of this recession to the Great Depression. When in fact, it is far from in common with the it. Unemployment rates were at 25 percent while ours is at 8.5 percent. It’s just a bad slump that we will have to get out of.

  19. 19 Arnulfo Solorio May 8, 2009 at 4:41 PM

    Hi all,
    In my opinion this time is much worse than back in those days. One reason is that we did not feel what people felt then. We do not know how hard it was for all of the people and what they had to go trough. If you look at numbers on this chart there is definately no comparation. I think that back then it was much worse in a way. One thing that we have to have in mind is that back then there were not as many computers, cell phones, credit cards, fency cars and houses that now we have to have nor bad habits in spending. Again this is only my opinion.

  20. 20 Pat Kolcum May 8, 2009 at 5:15 PM

    There is no doubt that our economy is definitely hurting however it is far from reaching the same number as in the great depression. Most people seem to view this economic hard time much worse than it actually is, this is probably because of the way in which the media talks about it. Even though the government’s attempts seem to be helping, this slump could very easily worsen drastically taking us into a depression.

  21. 21 Lucas Tirelli May 9, 2009 at 9:23 AM

    Our situation is bad, but it is very far from reaching the Great Depression. A lot of people compare this recession to the Great Depression, but by looking at these numbers, we can clearly see that our situation is far from being that bad. The only thing is that we have much more companies and workers; in fact, 8% of unemployment nowadays means much more people out of job than in the 1930s.

  22. 22 Matthew Dimech Econ-101 May 12, 2009 at 3:00 PM

    Kind of makes u feel silly doesn’t it? Compared to what our great grandfathers faced during the great depression, this is like a walk in the park. And i am sure our media coverage doesn’t make us feel much better. Personally, i never would of guessed they were so far apart.

  23. 23 Lucy Hwang May 13, 2009 at 3:09 PM

    I think someimes our media goes nuts too quickly. Recent evidence: Swine Flu. When I first heard it from a radio, I thought 9.11. happened or something like that. I don’t know why the media try to do that.

  24. 24 Gabriel Mayora (Macro-Theory SMC) May 13, 2009 at 8:41 PM

    Much of society today is in fear that we are close to another depression. The fact is, and the chart shows this, that we are no where near the US economy was in the 30’s. People should be aware of this chart because they believe that our economy will soon hit rock bottom. People should become more educated on this issue and maybe we can increase spending in our economy.

  25. 25 Jim Castilone May 14, 2009 at 2:34 PM

    This chart definitely gives me a chance to relax! The media is always making such a great big deal out of the recession. Even though it would be disastrous to have a repeat of the Great Depression, its nice to see that we are no where near that point. I think more people should take a look at this comparison.

  26. 26 Kevin Clark St marys May 16, 2009 at 12:45 AM

    It is comforting to see these figures to know that the economic struggle we are in is no where near as bad what our forefathers expierenced, yippie!!! We can not compare our depression with that of a completley different generation and period of time. What we need to do is stay on top of the always changing global economy and stay ahead of the curve and be prepared for these type of spending flucuations. We need to work toward a system that is more responsive to rapid change and has a built in coushin for downturns. Until then we work with what we have.

  27. 27 Jerry Ellison May 16, 2009 at 2:02 PM

    That chart really puts things in perspective. How can we even start to compare the two? Unemployment during the Depression was up in the 20’s? Are you kidding? I feel like the recession has really hit hard in the lower class, but not too bad anywhere else. At least not like the Depression, which affected everyone except the richest of the rich. By no means is there any comparison.

  28. 28 Molly Jordan May 16, 2009 at 8:50 PM

    This chart shows the major differences between a depression and a recession. I agree that with other responses that the media has blown the current recession out of proportion comparing it to the depression in the 1920’s. Unfortunately, recessions are still severe and people are losing their jobs. No one knows how long the current recession will last, but I trust that the business cycle will run its course.

  29. 29 Walter Munill May 17, 2009 at 1:45 PM

    For people to even compare the recession that we are currently in to the great depression is absurd. We have encountered other recessions between now and the depression, but it is the fact that we never felt we were untouchable. In the past people would never have borrowed more money than they make in five years to buy a house. The idea of this just seems outrageous, but when banks will give anyone a home loan for whatever amount wanted, the dream is sure to crash. The recession and the depression do not even compare in size

  30. 30 Robert LaVoy May 17, 2009 at 11:17 PM

    The difference between the two are crazy! I could have guessed that they would have been a lot different, but not that much. It makes sense though because look at how much the average persons standard of living dropped during the great depression compared to now.

  31. 31 Dennis K May 18, 2009 at 3:13 AM

    A crazy difference, 50% bank failures! I figured as much since the the depression in the 20’s was a complete collapse of everything and people were just suffering with no hope of whats going to happen. I’m glad our system has prepped itself since then so we can handle some minor financial crisis’

  32. 32 Santi Orona May 18, 2009 at 10:25 PM

    This is a very interesting article because it sheds light on the true troubles of those going through the Depression. Everyone studied the Depression, but now we really see how it affected Americans. It shows our problems aren’t too bad. Although we are suffering, we can find some solace in the fact that it isn’t that bad.

  33. 33 Alyssa McKinney May 20, 2009 at 8:07 PM

    It’s things like that that make it easy to take a step back, a deep breath, and realize that we’re not as screwed as everyone would like us to believe we are. There’s a reason they’re only calling it a recession here!

  34. 34 Mva89 May 20, 2009 at 8:32 PM

    This surprised me a lot! I guess this is an excellent example of how the media is blowing everything out of proportion. Of course I still think we are in a very serious crisis but if you compare our situation to the great depression it honestly looks like nothing. But I guess it is more serious now in modern times considering how much we have developed.
    I think everyone should take a look at this chart, then maybe people would not panic anymore.

  35. 35 Claudio Ramirez May 26, 2009 at 2:39 PM

    The Great Depression compared to this “Great” Recession arent even comparable. First the state of the economy was in far worse shape and the era during when it took place is also uncomparable. I think its sad how people all of a sudden hit the panic point and media plays a big roll that they create the fear factor of no hope which then just turns into negative propagada. Have to stay strong through the struggle. Thats what life is about especially during times like these and stop watching the news!

  36. 36 Jennifer Wienecke-Friedman July 10, 2009 at 3:02 PM

    Thankfully the percentages are not the same, but the number of people is still higher today than it was in the 30’s.

  37. 37 Jessica Schimke August 6, 2009 at 2:41 AM

    I think it’s a good idea to compare the Great Recession to the Grate Depression. It puts things in perspective. I think people are too quick to panic and overreact when things get a little rough. The economy likes to fluctuate–that’s what it’s good at. The Great Depression was extremely far worse that anything we’ve seen so far. I doubt we will get any where near those statistics. At least perhaps we have a little less anxiety than before seeing the chart.

  38. 38 TTS06 December 17, 2009 at 1:16 PM

    I look at this situation as a play on words. This recession has gone on for a long time and could be considered a depression, however politicians and news providers aren’t using that word so people won’t fear a depression causing the problem to get worse.


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