What Happened in 1982 in American History Economy?

In 1982, the United States was facing significant economic challenges. The country was in the midst of a recession that had begun in 1981.

The unemployment rate had risen to 10.8%, and inflation was at a staggering 6.2%. The Federal Reserve, under the leadership of Paul Volcker, was attempting to combat inflation by raising interest rates. This policy had led to high levels of unemployment but was seen as necessary to stabilize the economy.

The Economy

The recession had a profound impact on the American economy. GDP growth had fallen to -1.9%, and many businesses were struggling to stay afloat. The manufacturing industry was hit particularly hard, with many factories closing down or laying off workers.

Despite these challenges, there were some glimmers of hope. The housing market began to recover in 1982, with housing starts increasing by 18%. Additionally, consumer confidence began to improve towards the end of the year.

The Stock Market

The stock market experienced significant volatility in 1982. In August, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell below 800 for the first time since 1980. However, by December, it had rebounded and closed above 1,000.

The Automobile Industry

The automobile industry continued to struggle in 1982. Many car manufacturers were facing financial difficulties due to increased competition from foreign automakers. General Motors posted a loss of $4 billion for the year.

Political Events

There were several notable political events that occurred in 1982:

  • In November, Democrats regained control of the Senate after six years of Republican control.
  • In December, President Ronald Reagan signed into law a bill that established Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a federal holiday.
  • In September, the first CD player was sold in the United States.

Cultural Events

1982 was also a significant year for popular culture. Some of the most notable events include:

  • The release of Michael Jackson’s album “Thriller,” which went on to become the best-selling album of all time.
  • The premiere of the television show “Cheers,” which would go on to become one of the most beloved sitcoms in history.
  • The release of Steven Spielberg’s film “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” which became one of the highest-grossing films of all time.


In 1982, America faced significant economic and political challenges. The country was in the midst of a recession, and many businesses were struggling to stay afloat.

However, there were also some positive developments, such as an increase in housing starts and improvements in consumer confidence. The year was also notable for several cultural events that continue to be remembered today.