The economic downturn for me began some 35+ years ago when the profession I had not yet even chosen as my own decided to become more businesslike. Rather than maintain the professoriate as a genuine profession, it was recognized that more money could be made by turning it into a job.
Like other jobs, one can gut the negotiating position of those seeking a job by glutting the market with them. So no small part of the job became cranking out Ph.D's like link sausages, and using them as cheap day-labor during the cranking time (also known as "teaching assistants").
You see, I did not understand any of this stuff when I started out. I started out because I wanted to be a professor of philosophy. And, insofar as the titles are concerned, I am one. But I am also what is known as an "Independent Scholar," which is a euphemism for "unemployed." Moreover, as nearly as I can determine, I am not just out of a job, but out of a career. Despite my excellent teaching credentials and a really outstanding publication record for someone this soon out of grad school -- I mean, nobody publishes a book within a year of defending their dissertation -- I am evidently not going to be hired by anyone, ever. At least not within academia.
Non-academics often don't get either the commitment or the cost of becoming an academic. Nobody does this for the money, they do it because it is a vocation -- from the Latin meaning calling. One is called to profess, to stand up and present ideas and defend them on their merits and reasons, which is as far beyond merely "expressing an opinion" as a braying donkey is from making articulate speech. So when you look around and discover that this calling, this profession, has collapsed in ruins about you, it is rather more shocking than just losing a job. It is like watching an intimate get run over by a truck as you stand helplessly on the curb.
News of the recession hits me as abstract or ironic, since I've already been there for a while. Thus, the only reason I am not homeless is that I've friends who refuse to permit that to happen. But I continue to shift around from place to place, trying to minimize the burden on others, an academic tinker.
Oddly (or not) I continue to scratch out scholarly work. Nobody does this for the money.