At 9.7 percent, the U.S. experienced the highest unemployment rate in 1982 since the Great Depression. Is it that bad today?
The official February 2009 rate of 8.1 percent suggests things aren’t as bad as ’82, but new research from the Center for Economic and Policy Research suggests otherwise – a comparable rate of 9.5 percent.
“Putting the February 2009 unemployment rate on a basis that is more directly comparable to the unemployment rate in 1982, the current rate rises from 8.1 percentage points to 9.5 percentage points, just 0.2 percentage points below the 9.7 percent average for 1982,” writes John Schmitt and Dean Baker, authors of the new report, “Is the U.S. Unemployment Rate Today Already as High as It Was in 1982?”
The official unemployment rate, according to the Center, is not taking into account two important differences between the ’82 unemployment rate and today. The first is demographic.