How does today's economic recovery stack up?

A 'price reduced' sign is posted in front of a home for sale on November 30, 2011 in San Rafael, California.

Tonight is debate night number two of the presidential race. Vice President Joe Biden will face Congressman Paul Ryan in Danville, Kentucky. There's a good chance the strength or weakness of the economic recovery is going to play a starring role.

Republicans have been calling it the weakest recovery in U.S. history. Yet, fact checking recessions and recoveries has become incredibly controversial because, as in the case of much of economics, it all depends.

The Associated Press has looked back and found this economic recovery to be the worst in post-war history -- consumer spending has never been so low and only once has job growth been so slow in a recovery. Though, if you look back further to the early twentieth century and include the Great Depression, today's ecnonomic recovery looks pretty good.

The main difference between this recession and others in the post-WWII era is housing. The housing bust of the 2000s caused an unprecedented decline in prices, whereas most other recoveries since the late 1940's saw strong housing markets which helped bolster the economy and bring it back to health.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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