September 1, 2010
The recession officially ended in June 2009, according to the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a group charged with determining when recessions officially begin and end.
This official end date makes the most recent downturn the longest since World War II. This recent recession, having begun in December 2007, lasted 18 months. Until now the longest postwar recessions were those of 1973-5 and 1981-2, which each lasted 16 months.
Recession and expansion dates are based on various economic indicators, including gross domestic product, income, employment, industrial production and wholesale-retail sales. The Business Cycle Dating Committee typically waits to declare that the economy has turned until well after the fact, when it has a longer track record of economic data to confirm a new trend.
The NBER said the economy bottomed out in June 2009, followed thereafter by a slow expansion, and its determination of the recession's end does not mean the U.S. is now healthy. The bureau took care to note that the recession, by definition, meant only the period until the economy reached its low point — not a return to its previous vigor.
“In determining that a trough occurred 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 said. “Rather, the committee determined only that the recession ended and a recovery began in that month.”