The Atlanta Fed's macroblog provides commentary and analysis on economic topics including monetary policy, macroeconomic developments, inflation, labor economics, and financial issues.

Authors for macroblog are Dave Altig, John Robertson, and other Atlanta Fed economists and researchers.

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August 14, 2009

What's really different about this recession?

The short answer to the question posed in the title of this blog post is, of course, "lots of things." One of those things is featured in the latest edition of Economic Highlights, the Atlanta Fed's weekly digest of newly released economic statistics. Here, specifically, is a chart reflecting the trajectories of individuals working part-time for economic reasons in the current and past recessions.


As the chart clearly shows, the increase in people reporting that they are involuntarily working part-time rather than full-time is considerably higher in this recession than in past recessions. Although the increase in these workers has moderated some since the spring of this year, the number of people in the category of working part-time for economic reasons remains at 8.8 million, well above the level of past contractions in both absolute and relative terms.

This recession has given us many puzzles to mull over. Now we can add the unusual pattern of part-time work to the list.

Side note: We invite you to check out SouthPoint, the Atlanta Fed's new weekly blog on regional economic conditions in the Southeast.

By Menbere Shiferaw, senior economic research analyst at the Atlanta Fed

August 14, 2009 in Business Cycles , Labor Markets | Permalink


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looking at fed data on employment I get the
feeling that the '01 recession never ended.

Posted by: who_saves | August 14, 2009 at 07:43 PM

Can you define "part-time?" There is quite a difference between, say 35 hours a week and 20 hours. Thanks.

Posted by: MiTurn | August 15, 2009 at 01:20 AM

Very interesting;

another gauge is the no. of temporary workers, which is considered a leading indicator.

Posted by: hedonist | August 15, 2009 at 05:17 AM

This is also happening in Australia -
"Since the high of November 1992 the rate generally decreased to the recent low of 10% in May 2008 and has since risen to 13.4% in May 2009." from


Posted by: Moz | August 16, 2009 at 07:39 PM

Yes I agree, all recessions are different, but somehow, I think the US will run out of money long before this mess can be corrected. Hey, why is the overnite funds rate ZERO? Do you want people to save money, and then interest rates on savings are almost nothing, and the banks take turns going out of business every weekend?

You're invited to comment on MY blogsite!

Thanks You, John DeFlumeri Jr.

Posted by: John DeFlumeri Jr | August 18, 2009 at 07:13 PM

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