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June 1994

The 1990-91 recession: how bad was the labor market?

Jennifer Gardner

The most recent recession was milder than earlier postwar contractions, but many labor market measures did not improve until well after the official end of the downturn. This article focuses on demographic and occupational employment and unemployment data to examine several unique factors of the 1990-91 recession: how the labor market continued to deteriorate long after other economic indicators began to improve, how employment declines were more widespread across the major occupational and industry groups, and how a much smaller share of the unemployed who lost jobs in the recession expected to be rehired.

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