Jared Bernstein is an economist and senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He was formerly chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden and a member of President Barack Obama’s economics team.
Even before the World Trade Center tragedy struck a blow at the economy, the
national unemployment rate had begun to rise in recent months--and comments like
these began appearing in the press:
"The economy is moving to a more normal, sustainable unemployment rate after a
period of rapid growth" (Neal Soss, chief economist at Credit Suisse First
Boston, quoted in The Washington Post, May 5, 2001).
"Unemployment, despite thousands of recent layoffs across a
wide range of sectors, is still well below the rate commonly associated with
stable inflation and growth" (New York Times editorial, June 28, 2001).
For the first time in a decade, our economy is in recession. It's not official
yet--the group that dates recessions doesn't act until after the fact--but
there's little doubt that we're in the midst of a downturn. The tragedy of
September 11 didn't sink the economy; it was already listing badly. But the
terrorist attacks will undoubtedly extend its length and depth.