I came across this chart in a recent report: “Creating a Safety Net that Works When the Economy Doesn’t: The Role of the Food Stamp and TANF Programs,” By LaDonna Pavetti, et al. released by the Urban Institute.
The chart shows the unemployment rates during recessions and recoveries. It is a good chart–it is clear, easy to understand and uses accurate scales. I am not sure how economists decide when a recession has moved into recovery though. Only the November 1982 recession is actually at the peak of unemployment rates and then declines. The current recession, according to this chart, ended in July 2009 and we are now in recovery, even though the unemployment rate is still rising. But then the unemployment rate continued to rise in the recovery period of the 1991 and 2001 recessions.
For those who are still losing jobs, this probably does not feel like a recovery. The report itself found that the food stamp program has generally been responsive to the needs of those who have lost their jobs. TANF (the reinvented welfare program), however, has not been responsive.