If anything this recession has been unusual in the breath of sectors and workers that have been hard hit. Can all of this be explained by balance sheet effects?

Here are retail sales vs. balance sheets over the last cycle.

FRED Graph

Here are non-goods producing jobs versus balance sheets over the last cycle.

FRED Graph

As I mentioned before recession are usually mild on non manufacturing, non construction producing industries. Here are year-over-year growth rates in non-manufacturing, non-construction jobs since the 1939.

FRED Graph

The problem with a pure balance sheet hypothesis, however, is that net worth has been growing much more rapidly in recent years than jobs, by any measure.

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