I saw decent developers laid off, but good developers kept on. I saw companies desperately hunting for business (and signing ruinous contracts to have revenue). I saw promises to employees that had been made in exuberance broken (we'll open a London office). I saw poor business practices--lay offs the week of Thanksgiving, for example. I saw the business I was a part of get smaller and smaller as the fat was trimmed.
However, for good developers, there were still raises. I know some great people who were hired away, so I think that the job market still existed. But you certainly weren't getting the exuberant benefits in the new job.
I was too young to be on recruiters' radar, so I can't comment on that.
As far as insulating yourself, I think the best things you can do are:
* be humble
* learn new skills
* be cognizant of the business and the value it provides to consumers, and where it is weak
* know if the business is profitable, and how (1 big customer? 1,000,000 small ones? advertising)
* save a large chunk of your salary, and not just in your 401k
* keep your network alive (maybe be an informal recruiter? http://www.mooreds.com/wordpress/archives/1728 )