Recession ‘82

It’s more or less forgotten, having been obscured by a larger narrative of 80’s vitality.

I remember the 81/82 period pretty well, it’s not all that obscured to me.

I would do well to nail down the ins and outs of my dad’s career, for memory’s sake.

Having come home from the service, he matriculated to office work.  I think he had a city job, and an insurance claims job, and then started working for TCF as a real estate appraiser (…for home mortgages), maybe by 72/73.  I don’t know that the TCF job paid more than $20k a year by the time he left it.  That mighta been 78, when he got a state job.  I think I’m right in describing it as at the DNR doing appraisals for ED condemnations.

And that was a better job, a good job… I dunno, maybe it paid over $30k… but maybe it didn’t… anyway my parents could thus make a leap from St. Paul to Lake Elmo, which was close to Oakdale and Maplewood where they had grown up… but nicer, ya know, very middle class prosperous in ways better than Oakdale and MW.

In 1979 their rambler in Lake Elmo cost $67k or $69k.  I don’t know how the whole mortgage process worked out with what we all remember as trope about Carter era interest rates.  But they did it, I think, with his new good job, despite some prevailing 1970’s type economic problems.

Well the article talks about that seismic Volker interest rate shock.  My dad got laid off from this state job in 81/82, I’d say 82.  And I’m sure it was a function of the Volker war on inflation.  State tax revenue went down dramatically with this DNR land activity ceasing entirely (for a time).

A lot of people were out of work, I recall unemployment rates breached 10%.   I’m trying to put my finger on what anxiousness we had.  I think we were all anxious, but that memory has dimmed.   Ya know, with the $ gas and the interest rates and the unemployment there was this notion that a new depression was on….   For an apocryphal anecdote, as my father approached age 40 I have memory of him being given placement guidance to move to Dade County FL where LEO jobs might be plentiful for ex-military fellas.

He didn’t do that…. And ya know, he must have been out of work for a time but I don’t remember him ever staying home during the day say waiting for the phone to ring.  Right away I think he took what must have been very inconsistent, low paid work (by comparison) for one of the old-heads in town who had an independent practice.

….Then he grouped up with some other fellas to rent office space…..then he partnered up with some guys to have a practice….  85/86/87 the S&L thing hits.  Independent appraisal shops got a lot of work, and banks were getting away from having appraisal staffs anyway.  Then, there was the first Greenspan refi boom, say 1991-92… appraisers got a lot of work.

And the economy was good generally, and certainly never got as bad as it was in 82.  In one of those intervening good economy 80’s years I think my parents had an income tax balance due of like $35k from say not having acclimated to the math of how the business was performing.  I do believe that situation also made them anxious.


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