NPR logo In Case You Haven't Noticed: The Recession Officially Ended 15 Months Ago

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In Case You Haven't Noticed: The Recession Officially Ended 15 Months Ago

In this photo, taken on Sept. 1,  job seekers look for work on a bank of computers set up at Workforce One in Hollywood, Fla.  Lynne Sladky/AP Photo hide caption

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Lynne Sladky/AP Photo

The National Bureau of Economic Research's Business Cycle Dating Committee convened a conference call this weekend. (That's a group of seven [eminent] academic economists.)

Today, the "private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works" made this announcement:

...the committee determined that a trough in business activity occurred in the U.S. economy in June 2009. The trough marks the end of the recession that began in December 2007 and the beginning of an expansion.

In short, the recession — or that recession, at least — is over. Long over. In fact, it officially ended 15 months ago.

"The recession lasted 18 months, which makes it the longest of any recession since World War II," the group said in a statement. "Previously the longest postwar recessions were those of 1973-75 and 1981-82, both of which lasted 16 months."

So, what happens if business activity doesn't go up again, as the Bureau predicts?

The committee decided that any future downturn of the economy would be a new recession and not a continuation of the recession that began in December 2007. The basis for this decision was the length and strength of the recovery to date.

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Catherine Rampell, economics editor at nytimes.com, notes that "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."