We document two facts. First, during the Great Recession, consumers traded down in the quality of the goods and services they consumed. Second, the production of low-quality goods is less labor intensive than that of high-quality goods. When households traded down, labor demand fell, increasing the recession’s severity. We find that the trading-down phenomenon accounts for a substantial fraction of the decline in U.S. employment in the recent recession. We show that embedding quality choice in a business-cycle model improves the model’s amplification and comovement properties.