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The difference between a recession and depression and what we are headed toward

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - As the economy continues to struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are concerned that the country could fall into a depression. However, economists are looking to educate everyone on what a depression truly is.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a recession, defined as a "contraction of the economy causing a loss of jobs and a lack of business across the nation."

The United States unemployment rate has risen to the highest percentage since the Great Depression, but economists are saying it takes more than a loss of jobs for an environment to go into a depression.

In fact, the word 'depression' isn't an economic term but a term society uses to describe when the economy's contraction becomes part of our daily lives.

"If for example we didn't have the ability to snap back, if we all forgot how to do our jobs or our jobs were no longer pertinent to society, that's when we've got something that really looks like the Great Depression," said UW-Eau Claire Economics Chair Thomas Kemp.

Kemp said adapting to changes like we did when many moved to working from home is the key to preventing another depression.

In comparison to the recession in the late 2000s, Kemp believes this recession will be more severe but hopefully shorter-lived.  

Because many employees are expected to return to work sooner than later, he said it is unlikely that the United States will fall into a depression.

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