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What's different about this recession? Its unusually long recovery

Published: Thursday, Sept. 26 2013 5:45 p.m. MDT

In the 50-year span between the 1940s to the 1990s, the U.S. economy averaged a year or less to recover from a recession, but a new graph by the Pew Research Center shows that trend is far behind us.

The broad and high wake of the Great Recession has stretched five-and-a-half years and counting, three-and-a-half of which have been the long-tailed recovery.

The graph, released by the Pew Research Center as part of its Fact Tank series, compares every economic recession since 1948 based on the months of job decline compared to the time it took to return to the pre-recession jobs peak.

“At 42 months and counting, current job 'recovery' is slowest since Truman was president,” the article’s headline reads.

According to Pew’s research, it was the recession of 1990-91 that broke the decades-long trend of quick recoveries. During that recession, which Pew acknowledges was relatively mild, it took 21 months to recover the 1.6 million jobs lost, breaking the streak of less-than-a-year recoveries.

In fact, Pew cites a report by several UC Berkley economists that claims longer recoveries may be the standard from now on.

“The results suggest that only cultural factors can account for the rising persistence of unemployment in the U.S.,” the UC Berkeley researchers conclude. “But the evolution in mobility and demographics over time should have more than offset the effects of culture.”

Read more about recession recovery on Pewresearch.org.

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