WV Center on Budget and Policy > Blog > Economy > News Flash: The 2008 US Recession Officially Ended June 2009, What…No Applause?

News Flash: The 2008 US Recession Officially Ended June 2009, What…No Applause?

This might come as a bit of a news flash, but did you know that the 2008 US Recession officially ENDED in June 2009.  Some may question the accuracy of such a statement given the recessionary hangover we’re all feeling.  According to the “Business Cycle Dating Committee,” of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the 2008 US Recession officially lasted 18 months, which makes it the longest recession on record since World War II.  The previous record was held by the two recessions of 1973-1975 and 1981-1982, which lasted 16 months apiece. 

The unemployment rate is now twice as high in the US and in West Virginia than before the recession began.  The graph below depicts US initial claims for unemployment benefits and shows that they are about 140,000 above their pre-recessionary levels; claims averaged around 320,000 throughout 2007, today, weekly jobless benefit claims are now average 460,000, seasonally-adjusted.  

And the public mood is just nasty.  Don’t tell Main Street or even Wall Street for that matter that good times are just around the corner.  It seems today that everybody is mad as hell including the 1% of Americans that actually prospered during the recession as they now own 25% of all the wealth in the country, while the top 10% own nearly 50% of all the wealth.  In today’s economy, celebrating the end of the 2008 US Recession feels a lot like waking up the morning after a New Year’s Eve party and all your friends are gone and blowing your horn welcoming in the New Year by yourself (BTW, this has never happened to me).    Ever. J

According to the Business Cycle Dating Committee,

“A recession is 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.”

Recessions are measured from peak to trough; that is, from the start of the decline in economic activity to the start of an ascent of economic output.  The peak and trough of economic output is best thought of as phases in a business cycle, generally indicating a swing down then up in economic activity broadly measured by GDP, income, employment, production and sales. 

A huge jobs deficit remains in the US as nearly 15 million workers are now unemployed, up from about 7 million before the recession began.  The graph below shows that the US unemployment rate has more than doubled from pre-recessionary levels, increasing from about 4.4 percent to now over 8.8 percent. 

And in West Virginia, the economy won’t feel like it has recovered until many of the nearly 70,000 unemployed West Virginians find work. 

The 2008 US Recession may have officially ended, but until unemployed workers and idle factories find each other again in the haze of this recessionary hangover Americans will not feel much like partying.  The economic environment we’re in never bodes well for the political party in power – American’s are mad as hell as the November electoral winds of change begin to swirl. 

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