Maybe you saw this chart Nancy Pelosi has been flogging to the media?
Justin Fox made a more-honest version of it, doing the comparison in percentage terms and including the three previous recessions:
It’s a good example of how it’s possible to be completely dishonest without actually lying, at least from a technical standpoint. Pelosi’s graph is accurate as far as it goes. It uses real numbers. But it’s clear, when you compare it to Fox’s graph, that Pelosi’s was crafted for maximum emotional effect. “Oh my God!” one says when looking at Pelosi’s graph. “Employment is crashing with no end in sight! Who can save us?”
Fox’s graph makes it clear that yeah, employment is thoroughly befucked, and could well be heading for Great Depression territory. But it hasn’t quite outstripped the worst dip in the last 30 years. At least, not yet.
One of those graphs is conducive to fostering rational thought about where we’re at, historically speaking, and what our options might be. The other is conducive to stampeding people in the particular direction favored by the Speaker’s office this week.
We’re not going to get out of this by stampeding. We’re going to get out of it (if we are going to get out of it) through the application of rational thought.
Way to lead, Madame Speaker.
Update: More versions of the graph, with additional recessions, from calculatedriskblog.com: Job losses during recessions.