What Makes This Recession Different

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If you've heard one quote from the great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, it's probably this one from Anna Karenina: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." The same could probably be said about recessions. Not to get too dark about things, but it's time to get serious about the future of the world's economy, and how that looks where you live and work.

Analysts have been predicting a 2020 recession in the United States for a few years now, but that was based on real estate trends and other markets. Now with the coronavirus pandemic shutting down whole nations and keeping most of us at home, a new model is emerging about where our money is headed. It's not great: As the New York Times points out, we don't have a lot of manufacturing jobs to lose, though they're certainly affected by the outbreak. Instead, large swaths of the American economy are based on service jobs, which can mean anything from rideshare drivers to retail workers to restaurant staff.

Service work can't be done remotely, and may operate on thin margins as it is. Some states are already announcing plans for social distancing enforcement through early summer, and more are likely to follow suit. Since the 1990s, American recessions have recovered with fewer jobs than there were before. While Congress has just passed a $2 trillion relief bill, this is going to be a huge and ongoing problem. Get in touch with your elected representatives — they're the ones who most need to know what you need to get through this.