The Great Recession, now widely acknowledged as the worst postwar recession in U.S. history, has been tagged as “great” in part because its effects on the labor market have been broad, deep, and long lasting. Nearly five years after the recession’s official start, the unemployment rate still stands at 7.9 percent (for October 2012), and the official poverty rate at 15.0 percent (for 2011). The future of the economy and labor market remain, of course, less clear than we’d like. Time and again, we’ve found ourselves breathing a sigh of relief and thinking the worst is behind us, only to wake up to a new crisis and a new round of pessimism and anxiety.
But what about the social effects of the recession? Have these been just as profound? Have crime rates shot up, immigration and fertility rates plummeted, and health outcomes worsened?