Daily Bread for 5.17.23: The Great Recession Returns (But Then, It Never Left)

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 65. Sunrise is 5:29 AM and sunset 8:13 PM for 14h 44m 00s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 5.5% of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Park Board meets at 5:30 PM

On this day in 1673, Louis Jolliet, Father Jacques Marquette, and five French voyageurs departed from the mission of St. Ignace, at the head of Lake Michigan, to reconnoiter the Mississippi River. The party traveled in two canoes throughout the summer of 1673, traveling across Wisconsin, down the Mississippi to the Arkansas River, and back again.

Old Whitewater never understood the Great Recession, that steep economic downtown from ’07 to ’09 that attrited the socio-economic foundations of this small city (and much of the Midwest), the consequences of which are all around us even today. See Child Poverty from the Great Recession, Opioid Crisis : Great Recession :: Dust Bowl : Great Depression, Old Whitewater’s 3 Big Mistakes, the search term Great Recession, and categories on Boosterism (the futile outlook of Old Whitewater) and Poverty (what Old Whitewater’s outlook overlooked).

Here we find ourselves with What Ails, What Heals

A confident claim: policymakers in the city who do not appreciate that the Great Recession was the most significant socio-economic force in Whitewater in eighty years are either ignorant or incompetent. As it turns out, that also describes many who were in local office from 2007 to 2009, whose responses in that time and for years afterward were ineffectual. Some from that time still trudge on, substituting self-promotion and grandiosity for meaningful accomplishment.  

How very sad, indeed tragic, that during the Great Recession (and since!) those who claimed to have a special love for the city, and insisted that they above thousands possessed unmatched skills and insights, were truly the weakest leaders the city could have had. 

And look, and look — the Great Recession’s effects persist. Colleges’ problems with declining enrollment, including declining enrollment at UW-Whitewater, are a consequence of demographic changes begun during the Great Recession. Kevin Carey observes that 

In four years, the number of students graduating from high schools across the country will begin a sudden and precipitous decline, due to a rolling demographic aftershock of the Great Recession. Traumatized by uncertainty and unemployment, people decided to stop having kids during that period. But even as we climbed out of the recession, the birth rate kept dropping, and we are now starting to see the consequences on campuses everywhere. Classes will shrink, year after year, for most of the next two decades. People in the higher education industry call it “the enrollment cliff.”

Among the small number of elite colleges and research universities — think the Princetons and the Penn States — the cliff will be no big deal. These institutions have their pick of applicants and can easily keep classes full.

For everyone else, the consequences could be dire. In some places, the crisis has already begun. College enrollment began slowly receding after the millennial enrollment wave peaked in 2010, particularly in regions that were already experiencing below-average birth rates while simultaneously losing population to out-migration. Starved of students and the tuition revenue they bring, small private colleges in New England have begun to blink off the map. Regional public universities like Ship [Shippensburg] are enduring painful layoffs and consolidation.

In this and other ways, Whitewater and many other places never truly climbed out of the Great Recession: some effects lingered, and others are now felt as aftershocks. 

Bird withstands hail storm to protect eggs:

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