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Economic Commentary

Is This Really a "White-Collar Recession"?

Until the National Bureau of Economic Research (the official arbiter of business cycles) decrees it, we cannot be certain that history will record the current economic downturn as a recession. Nonetheless, many economic analysts and media representatives have chosen not to wait for the official pronouncement, proclaiming not only that the US. economy is in the midst of a recession, but that this downturn is different from previous ones because it has hit white-collar workers disproportionately hard. While both issues provide interesting material for debate, this article investigates only whether we are indeed experiencing a white-collar downturn.

The views authors express in Economic Commentary are theirs and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland or the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The series editor is Tasia Hane. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. This paper and its data are subject to revision; please visit for updates.

Suggested Citation

Eberts, Randall, and Erica Groshen. 1991. “Is This Really a 'White-Collar Recession'?” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Economic Commentary 3/15/1991.