You’ve seen the report that the unemployment rate is now officially 8.1%, the worst since 1983. You may not have heard that the rate of job losses is the highest since 1949 and appears to be accelerating. CalculatedRisk has a good chart showing how the current recession compares with prior ones since WWII.
The WSJ’s Real Time Economics blog reports that the U-6, the broader measure of unemployment (it counts people who have stopped looking as well), is now at 14.8%. Think of it as 1 out of 7 Americans out of work. Some economists believe that this measure will get to 20%, 1 out of 5, before this recession is over. Ouch. Peak unemployment in the Great Depression was around 25%.