The group charged with declaring when recessions begin and end isn’t ready to say yet:
WASHINGTON (AP) — A panel of academics that date the beginnings and ends of recessions isn’t ready to declare just yet when this downturn ended.
The National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday that although most barometers show improvements in the economy, it would be “premature” to pinpoint the end of a recession based on economic data seen so far.
That assessment came after the group of academic economists met at its Cambridge, Mass., headquarters on Thursday to review mountains of economic data.
The panel looks at figures that make up the nation’s gross domestic product, which measures the total value of goods and services produced within the United States. It also reviews incomes, employment and industrial activity.
The economists decided that many of the key economic indicators are “quite preliminary at this time and will be revised in coming months,” NBER said. The government often changes its estimates of economic growth, job creation and other important barometers based on more complete information. The panel of academic economists was wary of making a declaration about the end of the recession when key government figures could still be changed.
Even if we are out of the recession itself, though, don’t expect an economic boom anytime soon:
WASHINGTON – The pillars of Americans’ financial security — jobs and home values — will stay shaky well into 2011, according to an Associated Press survey of leading economists.
The findings of the new AP Economy Survey, released Monday, point to an economic recovery that will move slowly and fitfully this year and next. As a result, the Federal Reserve will be forced to keep interest rates near zero until at least the final quarter of this year, three-fourths of the economists said.
• The unemployment rate will stay stubbornly high the next two years. It will inch down to 9.3 percent by the end of this year and to 8.4 percent by the end of 2011. The rate has been 9.7 percent since January. When the recession started in December 2007, unemployment was 5 percent.
• Home prices will remain almost flat for the next two years, even after plunging an average 30 percent nationally since their peak in 2006. The economists forecast no rise this year and a 2.3 percent gain next year.
• The economy will grow 3 percent this year, which is less than usual during the early phase of a recovery and the reason unemployment will stay high. It takes growth of 5 percent for a year to lower the jobless rate by 1 percentage point, economists say.
And as if that weren’t enough to depress you, it’s entirely possible that a signficant portion of the unemployed will never fully recover from the recession:
WASHINGTON — Despite recent job gains, one grim statistic casts a long shadow over the recovering economy and the futures of more than 6 million workers: Fully 44 percent of the nation’s 15 million unemployed have been out of work for more than six months.
And evidence suggests many of them may never rebuild their working lives completely.
Never since the Great Depression has the U.S. labor market seen anything like it. The previous high in long-term unemployment was 26 percent in June 1983, just after the deep downturn of the early ’80s. The 44 percent rate this year translates into more than 6.5 million people.
In fact, nearly two-thirds of these workers actually have been jobless for a year or longer, new Labor Department reports show.
Add into all of this the negative economic impacts that will be felt from growing government debt and rising interest rates, it’s beginning to look like we will be living with the impact of the Great Recession for some time to come.