VP Biden: For the millions of Americans without jobs, the U.S. economy is in a ‘depression’

By Gorman Gorman

Oct 19, 2009 2:44pm

ABC News' Karen Travers reports:

In recent weeks, Vice President Joe Biden has said that the U.S. economy has been in what he calls "a great recession" and has stressed that it is not a depression, echoing the general consensus of the nation's economists.

But today the vice president took some liberty with the economic terms to illustrate the continuing struggles of the unemployed in the United States.

For the millions of Americans without a job, "it's a depression," Biden said.

"My grandpop used to say — there was a suburb of Scranton called Minooka.  He said, ‘When the guy in Minooka's out of work, it's an economic slowdown.  When your brother- in-law's out of work, it's a recession.  When you're out of work, it's a depression,'" Biden said.

"Well, it's a depression — it's a depression for millions of Americans, through no fault of their own," he said.

A recession is generally defined as a downturn in economic activity, usually marked by two or more consecutive quarters of declining GDP, and is less severe than a depression, by economists' standards.

Just two weeks ago, Biden said that he calls the current state of the economy "the great recession" because it's "the single worst economic circumstance" the United States has been in, "short of a depression."

On Oct. 2, Biden said that "fears of a depression have been replaced by forecasts of recovery" and on Sept. 3 Biden said that "instead of talking about the beginning of a depression, we're talking about the end of a recession eight months after taking office."

Biden's economic policy advisor Jared Bernstein told reporters today the vice president was "very accurate" that "in an economy with over 15 million people unemployed, there's a lot of folks out there that are facing deep economic struggles."

"Until we start bringing down the unemployment rate, until we start chipping away at those millions of unemployed people, until we start providing them with the jobs, the wages, the incomes, the hope, the opportunity that the vice president had in his mind when he was referring to…that dynamic, our work is far from done," Bernstein said.

-Karen Travers

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