Our Scary Employment Situation, in One Chart

The Washington Post explains why this recession feels interminable (and why it may be).

The Washington Post has a fantastic interactive piece that illustrates why this recession feels interminable (and why it may be).

The nation’s economic woes boil down to this. Compared with a healthy economy, about 7 million working-age people and 5 percent of the nation’s industrial capacity are sitting idle, not producing what they could. The economy is growing again, but at a rate — less than 2 percent in recent months — that’s too slow to keep up with a population that keeps increasing and workers who keep getting more efficient.

This is the output gap, the divide between the amount the United States can produce and what it is actually producing. The gap, currently $900 billion, explains why we feel so miserable more than a year into what is technically classified as an economic recovery.


This output gap is illustrated by the salmon colored area around 2008 and 2009. To the right of that, there are lines that show when the output gap would close depending on different growth rates. If the economy keeps growing at its current, anemic 2 percent, the output gap closes never. Click through the whole series of slides at the Post for the full walkthrough.

Via FlowingData