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Old 01-07-2018, 08:19 PM
 
Location: Kansas City, MISSOURI
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Much is made on this forum and elsewhere of the two or three great boom times post-WWII: The mid-80's and the mid-late 90's (with the mid-late 60's also often cited).

However, I think if we were to pick two consecutive most-booming-years, 1977-78 would give 1983-84 and 1997-98 (or any two consecutive years from 1994-99) a run for their money, and maybe even come out ahead. Here are some numbers for those two years:

Payroll job growth - numbers in thousands:
Year____Jan____Feb____Mar____Apr____May____Jun____ Jul____Aug____Sep____Oct____Nov____Dec____TOTAL___AVG
1977____244____296_____403_____338_____360_____399____ 348____238_____458____262_____379_____235_____3960_____330
1978____187____353_____513_____702_____346____442_____ 254____276_____137____336_____437_____282_____4265_____355
source

Those two years are #3 and #2 respectively for the years post-WWII with the highest payroll job additions in absolute numbers. #1 is 1946 -- which, being the year after WWII ended, is going to be under somewhat unusual circumstances. 1984 is #6, 1994 is #7, 1983 is #9 and 1997 is #10. In the 60's, 1965 and 66 are the two highest ones at #18 and #19. If you calculate those as a % of total payrolls they're going to come out higher, of course, but I didn't bother doing that. And that said, since payrolls in 1977-78 were smaller than both the 80's and 90's booms, their booming-ness is all the more greater than those other two boom periods.

GDP, similarly, was also spectacular, albeit less so than payrolls, though it was also highly variable. That said, it does feature one quarter which is nothing short of jaw-dropping (note: this was not realized until recently while the BEA was doing benchmark revisions of previous years).

GDP growth by quarter
1977 Q1: 4.7%
1977 Q2: 8.1%
1977 Q3: 7.3%
1977 Q4: 0%
1978 Q1: 1.4%
1978 Q2: 16.5%(!!!)
1978 Q3: 4%
1978 Q4: 5.5%
source

On an annual basis, those two years grew 4.6% and 5.6% respectively. In this category, 1984 beats out both with a 7.3% annual growth rate for the whole year.

Of course, the downside to all this booming growth was that inflation was going through the roof - which, of course, is why most people don't usually remember them as boom years. In 1977 the annual inflation rate was 6.3% and 1978 it was 7.4% (source). Though they were certainly high, those two years did still not match the peak years of 1979-81 in which the inflation rate was 9.8%, 12.4% and 10.4%.

Maybe if I get ambitious I'll look at some other data sets for those years (housing starts, etc).

Those were the days.
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Old 01-08-2018, 01:04 AM
 
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
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I remember that time. I was earning $13.50 an hour. I got married, bought 5 undeveloped view acres, and built my first house cash out of pocket, including well, septic, electrical, phone and driveway. I did float a $5000 signature loan so I didn't have to build paycheck to paycheck.
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Old 01-08-2018, 07:47 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
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Interesting, and I can relate. In late 1977 I got a nice promotion, from about $700/month to over $1,200. Then in early 1978
we bought our first house.
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Old 01-08-2018, 09:19 PM
 
Location: Cebu, Philippines
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Those were the years I made a lot of money trading volatile foreign currencies. I figured out a foolproof system and ran with.
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Old 01-11-2018, 10:40 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ
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I would have been conceived right about the very beginning of '77. Coincidence that the economy started booming then? I think not.
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Old 01-11-2018, 05:32 PM
 
Location: Kansas City, MISSOURI
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Here's another indicator for these two years: Single family housing starts. Here's the data:
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/HOUST1F
Between March of 1977 and November of 1978, single family housing starts reached a high not eclipsed until the mid-2000's housing boom/bubble. Even the 80's didn't get as high.

I remember reading an article in Time magazine around this time about people lining up to buy houses in a new development in southern California. That was pretty common back then. They'd sell, like, a few dozen or something houses on the first day of the grand opening of a new housing development.
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Old 01-12-2018, 05:50 PM
 
Location: Aurora Denveralis
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All I can say about those years is that they were the middle of a very high unemployment rate for young workers - IIRC, the 16-20 rate was well over 15%. I know it was a bwitch for me and most friends I knew; the only one among us who had a job worked for his dad's company.

This was your average, middle-class suburban crowd in a middling large city, lest anyone think I mean one of the urban areas with perennially high youth unemployment.
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Old 01-12-2018, 06:03 PM
 
Location: Kansas City, MISSOURI
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Yes, that's definitely true for this period, and is definitely a stain on otherwise good economic numbers.

However, I think the major reason for that was, the late 70's was the time when the biggest bulk of Baby Boomers hit the job market. The peak years of the baby boom was in the late 50's, which would mean they all hit their early 20's in the late 70's. It would seem that the job market, while very robust, was still not robust enough to absorb all those young and inexperienced job seekers.
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Old 01-12-2018, 06:18 PM
 
Location: ohio
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quietude View Post
All I can say about those years is that they were the middle of a very high unemployment rate for young workers - IIRC, the 16-20 rate was well over 15%. I know it was a bwitch for me and most friends I knew; the only one among us who had a job worked for his dad's company.

This was your average, middle-class suburban crowd in a middling large city, lest anyone think I mean one of the urban areas with perennially high youth unemployment.
I was 18-19 yrs old living in Mansfield Ohio at the time. Same thing was going on, jobs were not easy to find. You had to have connections to get a part time job at McDonalds or a grocery store. One day a department store had an ad in the Sunday paper, I went to apply on Monday. Being a teen I slept in got there around 10AM. There were at least 100 people waiting in line.
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Old 01-19-2018, 12:56 AM
 
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On paper it was a nice recovery from the 1974-1975 debacle but it was mostly good for Smokestack America-type workers in the northeast and midwest who had suffered in the downturn. Youth unemployment, especially in California, was still sky-high due to the massive move of young people into the workforce throughout the 1970s.
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