Worse than expected.
How does that compare from miseries past? The national rate was 7.2 percent or higher between December 1974 and April 1977 (peaking at an even 9.0), according to the aptly named Misery Index website; and again 7.2 percent or higher between May 1980 and August 1985, with a late-'82 peak of 10.8 percent unemployment. There was also a brief 7.2+ period between December '91 and January '93, peaking at 7.8.
Are we as bad off now as we were during the Carter-Reagan recession? If not, will we soon lap that and graduate direcly to the 1930s? Vote in the comments.
And read Reason's prescient roundtable on "The Coming Recession" from our June 2008 issue.