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- Unemployment and underemployment
Job loss in the Great Recession was by far the most severe of any recession since WWII. In the two years from December 2007 to December 2009, the labor market shed 6.1% of all payroll employment. By comparison, in the deep recession that began in 1981, job loss, at 3.1%, was about half as severe.
While the peak unemployment rate was slightly higher in the 1981 recession than in the Great Recession, the increase in unemployment associated with the Great Recession was the largest increase in any recession in 70 years.
Racial and ethnic minority workers tend to have much higher unemployment rates than white non-Hispanic workers. For example, the black unemployment rate is generally around twice as high as the white unemployment rate, regardless of whether the economy is in an expansion or a recession. This means that during recessions, black workers experience much larger increases in unemployment.