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February 1983, Vol. 106, No. 2
Unemployment continued to rise
in 1982 as recession deepened
Michael A. Urquhart and Marillyn A. Hewson
The economy entered 1982 in a severe recession and labor market conditions deteriorated throughout the year. The unemployment rate, already high by historical standards at the onset of the recession in mid-1981, reached 10.8 percent at the end of 1982, higher than at any time in post-World War II history.
The current recession followed on the heels of the brief 1980 recession, from which several key goods industries had experienced only limited recovery. Housing, automobiles, and steel, plus many of the industries that supply these basic industries, were in a prolonged downturn spanning 3 years or more, and bore the brunt of the 1981-82 job cutbacks.
Unemployment rose throughout 1982 and, by September, the overall rate had reached double digits for the first time since 1941. A total of 12 million persons were jobless by year endan increase of 4.2 million persons since the pre-recession low of July 1981.1 Unemployment rates for every major worker group reached postwar highs, with men age 20 and over particularly hard hit.2
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1 National Bureau of Economic Research business cycle peak.
2 Data on labor force, total employment, and unemployment are derived from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a sample survey of households conducted by the Bureau of the Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Statistics on nonagricultural payroll employment and hours from the Current Employment Statistics Program (CES) are collected by State agencies from employer reports of payroll records and are tabulated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A description of the two surveys appears in the Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly publications, Employment and Earnings.
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