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Running head: Rhetorical Analysis

Rhetorical Analysis: The Great Recession and Unemployment

Alia Dahlan
RC2001 Bret Zawilski

Rhetorical Analysis

The Great Recession is the largest and most devastating economic event in the past
several decades. A defining characteristic of the recession is the high unemployment rates in the
US at the time. There are many articles that discuss this argument in which scholars,
professionals in business and economics, and the general public can read about the relationship
between the Great Recession and high unemployment rates. These articles instigate discourse
about why this happened and how the country could have fixed it. Each article has different
characteristics that serve different purposes and address different audiences, which is why it is
important to analyze the following texts: The Great Recession: a Statistical Analysis of Its
Effects on Unemployment published in the International Journal of Business and Economics
Perspectives by Miranda M. Zhang, Stephanie Peppas, Spero Peppas, and Tyler T. Yu and
Unemployment and the Great Recession published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
written by Murat Tasci (Tasci, 2011; Zhang, 2015). The International Journal of Business and
Economics Perspectives article will be referred to as the scholarly article because it is a peerreviewed research article in the field of finance written by faculty at Georgia Gwinnett College
(Zhang, 2015). The Federal Reserve Article is will be referred to as the non-academic article
because it is in the form of a magazine article and the federal reserve is a government-affiliated
institution that serves the general public of the US (Tasci, 2011). By looking at these two articles
we can better understand why unemployment was high during the Great Recession, who was
impacted by it the the most, and how to prevent such high rates in the future.
The exigence, or gap to be filled, for both articles is similar in that that they are seeking
to describe to their respective audiences what led to high unemployment during the Great
Recession and what circumstances it fell under. They both contributed to similar discourse and
were both in print and online. They are both fairly recent articles analyzing the Great Recession,

Rhetorical Analysis

which ended in 2009. Both articles needed to answer how unemployment changed during the
Great Recession and how it affected people. They also lay the groundwork for more research on
the subject to be done. The largest difference seems to be the emphasis on statistical analysis in
the scholarly article, and the format of asking a question in the header and answering the
question in the text in the non-academic article about why the unemployment rate was high
(Tasci, 2011; Zhang, 2015).
The audiences of both articles are people who keep up with national news, are interested
in the countrys economic outlook, and want to learn more about current events, but the scholarly
journal article is intended more for academics while the non-academic Federal Reserve article is
intended more for business professionals. Both audiences are likely a part of the same discourse
community of people interested in economics. Both articles have an academic style to appeal to
their audiences because they both had straightforward facts and analysis about the economy
(Tasci, 2011; Zhang, 2015). The non-academic article had more color pictures, graphs, a stock
photo, and the website had different fonts and organization with colors (Tasci, 2011). Academics,
students, forecasters, policy makers, and anyone who needs statistical proof, including numbers,
graphs, and demographics, to make conclusions and decisions about unemployment are likely the
audience of the scholarly article (Zhang, 2015). People who subscribe to the Federal Reserves
publications, business professionals, and journalists who trust the Federal Reserve as a source are
likely the audience for the non-academic article. The piece has easily understood charts, simple
language, and asks questions that readers may wonder about. These aspects allow the article to
reach a larger audience because it is easy to comprehend by someone not in the industry (Tasci,
2011). The most significant difference between the audiences is that those reading the scholarly
article are likely members of the academic community reading the article from a peer-reviewed

Rhetorical Analysis

journal, while those reading the non-academic article are likely professionals working in the
business and economics field reading the article from a federal reserve bank magazine or
The researchers in the scholarly article divide the US population by geographic region,
education level, gender, and race possibly to recognize who may need more assistance in the
future. It needed mathematical proof to show the statistical significance of each variable
measured. The scholarly article used quantitative data, which is grounded in fact, instead of
qualitative data, which can be subjective, to make its argument. It uses this information because
the audience of scholars and other member of the academic community is expecting those
quantitative facts from an economics journal article. It was published on September 22, 2015. It
is looking back at the Great Recession and possibly attempting to prepare the country for future
financial turmoil by pinpointing which demographics of the US suffered the most in terms of
unemployment, suggesting that they may need more assistance during the next economic
downturn (Zhang, 2015). The non-academic article looked at the overall employed versus
unemployed population of America. It used statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to
make points, which gives readers confidence that the articles claims are true. This less academic
approach is more fitting for the general public audience because it gives an overall picture of the
facts rather than seemingly insignificant details. The piece was published on November 8, 2011.
It was written in the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession when unemployment was still
high, which is kairotic because Americans were likely wondering why unemployment was still
high even after the end of the recession (Tasci, 2011).
Both articles use kairos, or seize the moment for discourse, in different ways. They were
both written within 6 years of the end of the Great Recession. The scholarly article seems like it

Rhetorical Analysis

aims to predict unemployment if there was to be another recession. This is a continual topic of
discussion for economists, business professionals, and the general public because the economy
goes through cycles of prosperity and downturn, which affect everyone on earth. It provides
statistics to look back on in the event of another recession (Zhang, 2015). The non-academic
article benefits more from the kairotic moment because it was written while the high
unemployment rates were still occurring. The author was writing about current events and
contemplating what to do next (Tasci, 2011).
In addition, both articles put to use a lot of logos, or reasoning to appeal to the audience.
To do this, they incorporate images to assist the audience in understanding through visual
reference, as opposed to solely text. Both sources contain graphs and cite data from other
sources. They both use many pieces of data, historical statistics, and conclude that more research
can be done based on what they found in their research. The scholarly article uses more logos in
its literature review, statistical analysis, and tables. For example, the scholarly article has a table
that shows the difference between unemployment rates of different educational levels is
statistically significant (Zhang, 2015). The non-academic article uses easy-to-read charts and
statistics. For example, the non-academic article had a full-color chart to illustrate the percent
change in unemployment for the Great Recession compared to the average of all post-war
recessions (Tasci, 2011).
The form that these graphics take are a result of the constraints of their publications. Both
articles were published in print and on the web, so they can be accessed by most anyone on the
internet. Neither can be very long because they were both originally print publications. Despite
this, they both enable the exigence to be addressed. The scholarly article was published in a
journal with length and formatting constraints to fit the academic atmosphere. The authors also

Rhetorical Analysis

have the responsibility of representing their educational institution, Georgia Gwinnett College.
They have to be completely sure of their findings and use reliable sources. It makes sense for the
article to be published in 2015 because the Great Recession had ended just six years ago (Zhang,
2015). The non-academic article was published in a magazine-type of publication, which allows
for color images to make evidence more clear and requires shorter articles that take little time to
read. Most of these images provide a visual representation of the statistics mentioned in the text.
This article represents the opinion of the federal reserve, so it had to use trusted government
sources. It was also very timely because the high unemployment was still occurring when the
article was published (Tasci, 2011).
Both articles exhibit a lot of ethos, or credibility of the author, for their respective
purposes and audiences. The scholarly article more contributors and references to other research
articles. They both used labor statistics reported by the US government and both included
research. More ethos allows the articles to have more significance in discourse about
unemployment rates during the Great Recession. The scholarly article included a literature
review of previous research on similar topics that helped determine what needed to be researched
and how to conduct statistical analyses. The four authors are all faculty at Georgia Gwinnett
College with research interests in economics, which is the subject of the article (Zhang, 2015).
Academics tend to look to other academics for information, so the audience would likely find
these faculty credible in the field of economics. The non-academic article was written by a
research economist who works for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland who specializes in
economics. This is a sign of credibility for the audience because more business professionals
trust economists and the Federal Reserve system to provide them with careful analysis and
credible research (Tasci, 2011).

Rhetorical Analysis

Neither article appeals very strongly to pathos because they avoid bias and do not stray
from fact. They both contain a lot of numbers and statistical trends, but few emotions. The
scholarly article uses geographical regions, education level, gender, and race as variables for
unemployment rates, which can insight emotion if one believes that unemployment is not related
to these things. In the introduction, the scholarly article states that One of the most significant
features of the 2007 to 2009 economic recession was the high and, to a certain degree, long
lasting effect of unemployment in the labor market, which is a subjective statement because one
may argue that something else is the most significant feature (Zhang, 2015). The non-academic
article uses questions to probe readers. It opens with If unemployment is the single most
important indicator of the job market's health, the patient is unquestionably sick, which is a
subjective statement. It also uses the phrase the bad news is and includes a survey based on
opinions entitled Households financial situation in 2010 compared with a year earlier where
the responses were better off, same, or worse off (Tasci, 2011). If an article is too
subjective, the audience does not interpret is as fact, but opinion.
The arrangements were similar in both papers where they started with an introduction
that stated that unemployment was the worst part of the Great Recession, they both had body
paragraphs to make their arguments, and they both closed with conclusion that call for more
research (Tasci, 2011; Zhang, 2015). The scholarly article had an abstract, introduction, literature
review, research questions and stated hypothesis, methodology, statistical analysis with tables
and equations, conclusions, and references. This allows the reader to see the process the authors
went through to arrive at their conclusions (Zhang, 2015). The non-academic article started with
an introduction to Unemployment and the Great Recession, then sections titled Why
Unemployment Is Still High and Unemployed Feeling Recessions Sting. These sections

Rhetorical Analysis

answer questions about what was happening with the economy at the time (Tasci, 2011). The
authors structured the articles in these ways to clearly outline the ideas and create a sequence.
Both of the articles used active voice in their delivery, or how they said their information,
which is understandable because they were both published within the last six years and are
talking about recent events. The scholarly article had a more academic tone with its jargon and
prominent usage of statistics, while the federal reserve article had a more casual tone that is more
easily read and understood by an audience that may not have much experience in the field (Tasci,
2011; Zhang, 2015).
In essence, the scholarly article appeals more to ethos and logos while the non-academic
article appeals more to kairos and reaches a broader audience. The articles are rhetorically
different in their function and context, but they both address their audiences and fulfill their
exigences. Looking at these two texts showcase the way the audience and exigence shape the
different appeals. The two articles show how analysis about unemployment during the Great
Recession can be addressed in different ways depending on the audience.

Rhetorical Analysis

Tasci, M. (2011, November 8). Unemployment and the Great Recession. Retrieved September
05, 2016, from https://www.clevelandfed.org/en/newsroom-and-events/publications/
Zhang, M. M., Peppas, S., Peppas, S., & Yu, T. T. (2015). The great recession: a statistical
analysis of its effects on unemployment. International Journal Of Business And
Economics Perspectives (IJBEP), (1), 44.