One intriguing insight, at least for me, is that the pace of the recovery of the economy from the end of the recession has in some ways actually been not too far from historical patterns. However, this recession was exceptionally long and deep, which helps to explain why the recovery feels so inadequate. For example, here's a figure showing the pattern of employment after recession. On the horizontal axis, the date of 0 is the "trough" or final month of the recession. That level of employment is set equal to an index number of 100 on the vertical axis. Notice that after the trough of the recession, the growth in jobs has been similar to aftermath of the 1991 recession and faster than the 2001 recession. However, if you look at the time before the recession, the fall in jobs during the recession, before the trough, was much longer and much deeper in the Great Recession.
The pace of economic growth in the recovery has been notably slower than historical averages. For example, here's a figure comparing growth after the trough since the two previous recessions of 2001 and 1991, as well as against the average period for all the recessions from 1960 to 2007. The current recovery clearly lags behind.
There are two broad reasons for this slowdown. Real GDP growth is in part due to population growth: more population has meant more workers and faster growth, but population growth has been declining over time, reducing the rate of GDP growth. The other factor is that productivity levels have sagged since the 1960s. There was a modest resurgence of productivity growth for a time in the second half of the 1990s and into the early 2000s, but that boost seems to have faded.
One of my ongoing mental tasks during the past few years and the next few years is to organize my thoughts about the patterns of the Great Recession and its aftermath, and to put those patterns in historical and international context.