While the US crisis shares some similarities to The Great Depression, overall it’s not “the worst since the depression.” You don’t need to go back that far.
The early-1980’s were worse than today in many ways. At the same time the US embarked on one of its strongest economic expansions, starting in 1982.
The Enterprise Blog: For example, the prime rate was more than six times higher in 1980 compared to today, core inflation in 1980 was six times higher than today, the unemployment rate in November and December of 1982 was more than a percentage point higher than the August 2009 rate, the 30-year mortgage rate in 1981 was almost four times higher than today’s 5 per cent, the car loan rate in 1981 was 2.5 times higher than today, and real gas prices were 32 per cent more expensive in 1981 than today.
Obviously the above data is a bit cherry-picked, and expecting future growth similar to 1982-1990 remains a pipe dream. At the same time, expecting 1930’s level hardship is a bit riduclous.
At the very least, standards of living have come a long way in the last 80 years, and are falling from a much higher base than back then.
(Chart via The Enterprise Blog)