||Was the most recent recession the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression? With the data now in, it appears that the recession starting in December 2007 will rival the recession starting in November 1973, which was caused by a sharp and unexpected rise in oil prices. From Table, we see that the fall in output from peak to trough was 4.1 percent. A similar calculation based on available quarterly data for the recent recession from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the second quarter of 2009 reveals a fall of approximately 4.1%. On this measure, the 2007 recession was equally severe as measured by the decline in GDP. However, along other important dimensions, the 2007 recession was more damaging to the economy. The 1973 recession lasted 16 months, while the 2007 recession lasted 18 months, the longest in the postwar era. Additionally, the toll on workers appears greater in the most recent recession. Unemployment rose from 4.9 percent to 8.5 percent in the earlier recession as compared to 4.6 percent to 10.0 percent in the most recent recession. Of course, governments can offset some of these effects on individuals through social programs such as payments to those individuals who become unemployed or welfare payments. For a complete analysis, we would want to look at the incomes of those who lost their jobs as well as those who kept theirjobs.