Not only has the U.S. recession officially ended, but it ended way back in June 2009, the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) announced Monday.
But if it feels like the United States is still in a never-ending recession, that’s because the recovery is slow and looks a whole lot like the recession that the NBER–the nation’s official recession arbiter–has declared to have ended over a year ago.
Although the recovery began in June 2009, “the committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity,” the NBER noted in a release. “Rather, the committee determined only that the recession ended and a recovery began in that month.”
The “Great Recession,” as it has been called, lasted 18 months. That makes it the longest of any recession since World War II, according to the NBER. Previously, the longest post-war recessions were from 1973 to 1975 and 1981 to 1982, both of which lasted 16 months.
Any Downturn After June 2009 Would Be a New Recession
Any future downturn of the economy would be a new recession and not a continuation of the recession that began in December 2007. The NBER defines a recession as a period of falling economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales. Economic activity is usually below normal in the early stages of an expansion, and it sometimes remains so well into the expansion.
Economists were underwhelmed by the announcement that the recession is officially over.
“I’m not 100% sure that there is a ton to say about this release. It doesn’t tell us a tremendous amount about the strength of the recovery or if it will continue in coming quarters,” said Tom Simons, a money market economist and vice president of fixed income with Jefferies & Co. in New York. “However, it does confirm that the data over the past 13 months have indicated expansionary economic activity and that the recovery was led by growth in manufacturing. “
Joel Naroff, president and chief economist of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania, noted that the NBER is typically “a little slow on the uptake,” and that it’s not unusual for the committee to take a year to determine that a recession is over.