We don’t have good data from the Great Depression, but the U.S. probably lost more than 15% of its civilian jobs from 1929 to about 1932. The jobs recovery was pretty quick from there, but then jobs were lost again when austerity measures were implemented in 1937 — too soon.

By comparison, in the so-called “Great Recession” we lost only a fraction of those jobs, and we’re actually now adding jobs more quickly than major industrialized nations when they faced their own financial crises. And the jobs recovery would look a whole lot more robust if government employment were not still trending down (more private sector jobs are going to be created in the Obama’s first term than in Bush’s, for example).

From Calculated Risk’s Percent Job Losses: Great Recession and Great Depression :

On Friday, Treasury released a slide deck titled Financial Crisis Response In Charts. One of the charts shows the percentage jobs lost in the current recession compared to the Great Depression.

Here’s that graph:

As I noted in another post this morning, housing has been the big culprit in delaying this recovery, but we know from the recent history of industrialized nations that recoveries from financial crises are choppy and difficult.

We could have done a few things better to dig ourselves out of this mess, but it was always going to be a long slog. And it could have been a lot worse than it in fact turned out to be.