Tuesday AM November 10th, 2009

Slate Magazine’s web site is trying to place unemployment rates into historical context. Ed Mayberry reports.

Great Depression: A Diary book coverThis year is the 80th anniversary of the stock market crash.  There are parallels to the Great Depression in today’s economic situation, according to author Jim Ledbetter.  He’s editor of The Big Money, Slate magazine’s business Web site.

“In the 1935-1936 period, you actually had both a rising stock market and recovery.  In terms of growth of GDP, very similar to what we have now–we have a technical recovery, we have a rising stock market.  But the unemployment situation remains the worst we’ve seen in a generation or more.”

Ledbetter says there were pockets of positive growth even during the depression.  Ledbetter’s book uses the depression-era diary of a lawyer to paint a picture of life during a major financial crisis.

“You can really open up any page, put your finger down at random and you’ll find something that’s eerily reminiscent of what we’ve been living through for the last year-and-a-half.  We have seen, now, a technical end to our recession.  We had GDP growth in the most recent quarter for which we have reporting.  Having said that, the unemployment numbers released last week show, you know, 10.2 per cent—the highest in a more than a generation—and potentially rising.”

Ledbetter’s book is called The Great Depression: a Diary.  Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.