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It's official: Recession since Dec. '07
The National Bureau of Economic Research declares what most Americans already knew: the downturn has been going on for some time.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday that the U.S. has been in a recession since December 2007, making official what most Americans have already believed about the state of the economy .
The NBER is a private group of leading economists charged with dating the start and end of economic downturns. It typically takes a long time after the start of a recession to declare its start because of the need to look at final readings of various economic measures.
"The committee views the payroll employment measure, which is based on a large survey of employers, as the most reliable comprehensive estimate of employment," said the group's statement. "This series reached a peak in December 2007 and has declined every month since then."
Employers have trimmed payrolls by 1.2 million jobs in the first 10 months of this year. On Friday, economists are predicting the government will report a loss of another 325,000 jobs for November.
The NBER also looks at real personal income, industrial production as well as wholesale and retail sales. All those measures reached a peak between November 2007 and June 2008, the NBER said.
In addition, the NBER also considers the gross domestic product, which is the reading most typically associated with a recession in the general public.
Many people erroneously believe that a recession is defined by two consecutive quarters of economic activity declining. That has yet to take place during this recession.
The current recession is one of the longest downturns since the Great Depression of the 1930's.
The last two recessions (1990-1991 and 2001) lasted eight months each, and only two of the 10 previous post-Depression downturns lasted as long as a full year, according to the NBER.
In a statement, White House Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto said that even though the recession is now official, it is more important to focus on the steps being taken to fix the economy."The most important things we can do for the economy right now are to return the financial and credit markets to normal, and to continue to make progress in housing, and that's where we'll continue to focus," he said. "Addressing these areas will do the most right now to return the economy to growth and job creation."