State of the Union January/February 2011

How the Recession Changed Us

What a difference two years makes.
Click the image above to view the whole map

Graphic by: Amanda Buck

Officially, the Great Recession lasted from December 2007 to June 2009. A mere 18 months—about average, as recessions go. Yet if the trauma this time feels deep and lasting, that may be because, as the figures on these pages show, so many disruptions have upended national life at once.

Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, nearly every state faces a budget shortfall, and hundreds of banks have shut their doors. The young are unemployed, living at home, and playing video games. The ranks of third-party candidates have swollen, militias have proliferated, and national leaders of both parties have seen their support decline. Of course, times of flux are often times of anxiety and unrest. But as the economy begins its slow and stuttering recovery, the vast changes wrought by this recession will continue to reverberate for many years—in ways predictable and otherwise.


Souces: Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau; Association of American Publishers; Bureau of Economic Analysis; Bureau of Labor Statistics; CBS News Poll; Census Bureau; Congressional Budget Office; Damodaran Online, New York University; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Federal Reserve; Food and Nutrition Service; Freddie Mac; Gallup; Internet Movie Database; Lending Processing Services Inc.; Market Rates Insight; National Association of Realtors; National Conference of State Legislatures; The New York Times; Office of Personnel Management; Pew Research Center for the People & the Press; Secret Service; Smart Politics, University of Minnesota; Southern Poverty Law Center; TreasuryDirect; United States Courts; Yahoo Finance

Timothy Lavin is an Atlantic senior editor.
Presented by

Timothy Lavin is an Atlantic senior editor.

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

More in National

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In