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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

May 19, 2009 at 9:29 AM

Unemployment in perspective: Nasty nationally, not as bad here — yet

Top of the News: So how bad is the job loss? Horrible if it happens to you. Ammunition for thought if you’re an economist. One data set indicates Washington state’s situation might not as bad as some post-World War II recessions.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis looked at job losses for the 50 states during 11 recessions since 1948. In Washington, downturns in 1948, 1969 and 1981 saw more severe layoffs compared to the current unpleasantness. The catch: It only goes through March, and the losses are continuing (the state released jobless numbers today, finding April’s rate of 9.1 percent the same as revised March figures).

The 1948 recession, which involved retooling the U.S. economy from a war footing, saw the state lose nearly 9 percent of its jobs. The 1969 and 1981 recessions, Boeing related, were scary in their own right, seeing the labor market rattle around on the bottom for months (years in some cases).

Nationally, the current recession is already nosediving to compare with the harshest post-World War II downturns. When you look at the change in unemployment after 16 months, the recession that began in 2007 is the most severe of the lot.

The average recession lasted 10.5 months. The current one is already clocked at more than 17 months. And counting. You can check out the interactive charting here.

Today’s Econ Haku:

Risk is coming back

Or so they say on Wall Street

Your taxes at work

Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment

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