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.
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.
several economists said the real concern is that there is no end in sight for the downturn.
Some suggested that the best case scenario for the economy is that it would reach bottom in the second quarter of 2009. And even if that happens, that would still make this recession the longest since the Great Depression.