Article published Monday, September 20, 2010, at Fox News.

The Recession May Be Over -- But the 'Recovery' Is Very Weak

By John R. Lott, Jr.

With the recession officially over, how does it stack up to previous ones? And how has the recovery been going? The National Bureau of Economic Research, a private organization, has declared that, according to their measures the recession ended in June 2009. Since then, we supposedly have seen over a year of "recovery."

How bad the recession has been depends on what you look at. The Carter recession during the early 1980s produced a higher unemployment rate, with unemployment rising to a peak of 10.8 percent compared with the peak this time of 10.1 percent. The recent recession also did not come close to reaching the 14 percent annual inflation rate that we reached during the end of 1980.

On the other hand, the recent drop in GDP was larger. The three worst quarters of this recession saw drops in GDP of 6.8, 4.9, and 4 percent, exceeding the 6.5, 4.9, and 3.2 percent drops during the early 1980s. The most striking difference between these two recessions is how the economy recovered after they ended.

In the 14 months since the recent recession is said to have ended in June 2009, the unemployment rate has actually risen slightly from 9.5 to 9.6 percent. By contrast, the recession in the early 1980s ended in November 1982 and its unemployment rate plummeted by 3 percentage points over the same period, falling from 10.8 to 7.8 percent.

The same striking difference shows up in how GDP has grown during the two recoveries. Gross Domestic Product has grown by 3 percent during four quarters that we have seen for the current recession, with the last quarter slowing to an annual growth rate of just 1.6 percent. Over the four quarters after the 1980s recession, GDP grew at 7.75, well more than 2.5 times faster what we have seen over the last year. Given this much slower growth rate, it isn't surprising that unemployment has shown so much less improvement.

The current slow recovery provides a real contrast in Reaganís approach of providing incentives and Obamaís policies of spreading the wealth. Whether one looks at either GDP or unemployment, President Obamaís recovery has been an unusually weak.

John R. Lott Jr. is a contributor. He is an economist and the author of "More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 2010), the third edition of which was published in May.".

Home (description of book, downloadable data sets, and discussions of previous controversies)

Academic papers:

Social Science Research Network

Book Reviews:

For a list of book reviews on The Bias Against Guns, click here.

List of my Op-eds

Posts by topic

Appalachian law school attack

Baghdad murder rate

Arming Pilots

Fraudulent website pretending to be run by me

The Merced Pitchfork Killings and Vin Suprynowicz's quote

Ayres and Donohue

Stanford Law Review

Mother Jones article


Craig Newmark

Eric Rasmusen

William Sjostrom

Dr. T's

Interview with National Review Online

Lyonette Louis-Jacques's page on Firearms Regulation Worldwide

The End of Myth: An Interview with Dr. John Lott

Cold Comfort, Economist John Lott discusses the benefits of guns--and the hazards of pointing them out.

An interview with John R. Lott, Jr. author of More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws

Some data not found at

Updated Media Analysis of Appalachian Law School Attack

Since the first news search was done additional news stories have been added to Nexis:

There are thus now 218 unique stories, and a total of 294 stories counting duplicates (the stories in yellow were duplicates): Excel file for general overview and specific stories. Explicit mentions of defensive gun use increase from 2 to 3 now.

Journal of Legal Studies paper on spoiled ballots during the 2000 Presidential Election

Data set from USA Today, STATA 7.0 data set

"Do" File for some of the basic regressions from the paper