I asked an administration official for a definition. A 5% decline in real GDP over the course of a year? Persistent unemployment, with rates above 10%? I didn't get a good answer...
he question was meant to provoke a deeper thought, which is that the D
word, as it descends upon us, will curve political space as we drag it
into common use. When the frame is "deep recession," we think
differently than when the frame is "depression." Today, President
Obama travels from a relatively prosperous Washington D.C. to Elkhart,
Indiana, a city that is, by most measures, suffering from a depression.
It has the most unemployment per capita of any city in the
country. It's still ayptical, but becoming more typical. There are
many cities in the upper midwest that will see their unemployment rate
exceed 10% and their contraction rate grow to above 5 percent. There
will be a deep and persistent depression for certain parts of the
country; others, like Northeastern cities, cities with service
economies, will be able to escape the economic duress by surviving a
recession only, so deep is the social safety network in our urban
areas. The Senate slashed health and education spending and aid to
states from the stimulus package before passing it; these cuts will
hurt the poor and middle class in urban areas, but they're going to be
more trouble for lower middle class whites across the Midwest.