But in Nebraska and Iowa, at least, that label rates as the Great Overstatement.
We've seen worse — arguably much worse.
The downturn of the early 1980s, a double-dipping disaster with deep roots in agriculture, slammed the heartland much harder than this downturn, taking a heavier
Nebraska shed 5 percent of its jobs over the course of that economic dive, and Iowa a staggering 10 percent. With peak job losses in the current recession of about 3.4 percent for Nebraska and 4.7 percent for Iowa, things would have to get quite a bit worse before they'd be as dismal as back then.
“No, these are not the worst of times,'' said Iowa State University economist Peter Orazem. “I get annoyed at too many people whining about this being the worst time since the Great Depression. It's not.''
How much worse was it in the 1980s? Iowa's top unemployment level during this recession has been 6.6 percent. During the 1980s, Iowa's unemployment hit that level every month for 5½ straight years. Nebraska went through two long stretches totaling more than three years where its unemployment was at or above the 4.8 percent peak it hit for four months in this recession.
Of course, we're not out of the woods yet in this downturn, though most economists aren't expecting things to get a lot worse in coming months. And to be sure, any recession is painful if you're out of a job.