May ’91 in the Exponent: Wrestling With Recession

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Four Families Discuss Impact of Economic Crunch

It didn’t last all that long and wasn’t as severe as the early 1980s recession, but a downturn in 1990-’91 caused its share of economic pain.

The cover of the May 17, 1991 Jewish Exponent teased a story about the recession with a drawing referencing impacts on recent graduates, homeowners, new parents and those with medical concerns.

Turning to pages 30 and 31, readers are met with stories about four local families that “agreed to share with Exponent the hard choices they’ve made as they grapple with today’s economic crunch.”

One story profiles 24-year-old newlyweds who have to choose between going out to a movie or keeping kosher.

Another features a 37-year-old single widowed mother of two who is receiving unemployment and can’t afford to pay her synagogue dues.

A third story tells the tale of a “50-year-old Jewish businessman — an entrepreneur — from the Main Line. He used to be the owner and executive officer of a multimillion-dollar service company, pulling down a salary in the low six figures. Today, his income is zero.”

Finally, we hear the saga of “Irv,” a 78-year-old retired teacher who’s worried about the soaring price of medical insurance — some things never change — and the possibility that his ailing 80-year-old wife, Sophie, might have to be placed in a nursing home.

Grim tales all, but good news was around the corner: After the recession ended, the nation enjoyed its longest growth period ever.