The Recession and Recovery in Perspective

The 2007-2009 recession officially ended in June of 2009 (the second quarter). How bad was this recession, and how quickly is the economy recovering? How does this recession and recovery compare to previous cycles?


Employment - Recovery

Select individual recessions to compare.

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Notes:

  1. Employment is nonfarm payroll employment calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  2. Open data table for data on individual recessions and recoveries.
  3. *The NBER determined that the 2007 recession ended in June 2009 (the second quarter).

GDP - Recovery

Select individual recessions to compare.

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Notes:

  1. Output is gross domestic product adjusted for inflation as calculated by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  2. Open data table for data on individual recessions and recoveries.
  3. *The NBER determined that the 2007 recession ended in June 2009 (the second quarter).

Change in Employment Through 36 Months

* Mildest, median, and harshest lines reflect the smallest, median, and largest declines as of each month; they do not reflect specific individual recessions.

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Notes:

  1. Employment is nonfarm payroll employment calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  2. Postwar recessions include the 10 recessions as defined by the NBER that started between 1946 and 2006.
  3. Open data table to see how the mildest, median and harshest lines are calculated, and for data on individual recessions.

Change in Output Through 12 Quarters

* Mildest, median, and harshest lines reflect the smallest, median, and largest declines as of each quarter; they do not reflect specific individual recessions.

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Notes:

  1. Output is gross domestic product adjusted for inflation as calculated by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  2. Postwar recessions include the 10 recessions as defined by the NBER that started between 1946 and 2006.
  3. Open data table to see how the mildest, median and harshest lines are calculated, and for data on individual recessions.

Total change in U.S. employment

Drag through the timeline to compare the data for different months.
Note: As of January 2013, the timeline charts will no longer be updated with new data.

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Notes:

  1. The largest percentage decline from the start of the 2007 recession took place in December of 2009 (24 months after peak).
  2. The peaks and troughs of individual data series often do not coincide with the NBER dates for the start and end of a recession.

Total change is U.S. output

Drag through the timeline to compare the data for different months.
Note: As of January 2013, the timeline charts will no longer be updated with new data.

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Notes:

  1. The largest percentage decline in GDP for the current recession took place in Q2 2009 (six quarters after peak).

Background on Recession/Recovery in Perspective

This page places the current economic downturn and recovery into historical (post-WWII) perspective. It compares output and employment changes from the 2007-2009 recession and subsequent recovery with the same data for the 10 previous recessions and recoveries that have occurred since 1946.

This page provides a current assessment of 'how bad' the 2007-2009 recession was relative to past recessions, and of how quickly the economy is recovering relative to past recoveries. It will continue to be updated as new data are released. This page does not provide forecasts, and the information should not be interpreted as such.

The charts provide information about the length and depth of recessions, and the robustness of recoveries.

Post-WWII Recessions

The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research determines the beginning and ending dates of U.S. recessions. http://www.nber.org/cycles.html

It has determined that the U.S. economy experienced 10 recessions from 1946 through 2006. The committee determined that the 2007-2009 recession began in December 2007 and ended in June of 2009. Ending dates are typically announced several months after the recession officially ends. Read the June 2009 trough announcement by the NBER.

Length of Recessions

The 10 previous postwar recessions ranged in length from 6 months to 16 months, averaging about 10 1/2 months. The 2007-09 recession was the longest recession in the postwar period, at 18 months.

Depth of Recessions

The severity of a recession is determined in part by its length; perhaps even more important is the magnitude of the decline in economic activity. The 2007-09 recession was the deepest recession in the postwar period; at their lowest points employment fell by 6.3 percent and output fell by 5.1 percent.

 
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Narayana Kocherlakota