“The Network!” Newsletter Issue # 149

Is the Recession Over?

U.S. jobless rate jumps to 6 percent. Increase puts unemployment rate at highest since 1994. The jobless report also underscores the tension between professional economists, who generally predict a steady, sustainable expansion this year, and corporate executives, many of whom see little sign of rising demand. Stuck in the middle are consumers, who are suffering a weak labor market and declining stock market but enjoying low mortgage rates and rising home values.

The mixed picture raises real questions about whether the recession that began in March 2001 really was as mild as advertised according to Srinivas Thiruvadanthai, Director of Research at the Levy Forecasting Center, who compares it to the parable of six blind men and the elephant.

The U.S. economy entered its 10th postwar recession in March 2001, a panel of economists declared in November. Past recessions have averaged about 11 months each.

Recession Duration Peak jobless rate
Nov. 1948 to Oct. 1949 11 months 7.9% in Oct. 1949
July 1953 to May 1954 10 months 6.1% in Sept. 1954
Aug. 1957 to April 1958 8 months 7.5% in July 1958
April 1960 to Feb. 1961 10 months 7.1% in May 1961
Dec. 1969 to Nov. 1970 11 months 6.1% in Aug. 1971
Nov. 1973 to March 1975 16 months 9% in May 1975
Jan. 1980 to July 1980 6 months 7.8% in July 1980
July 1981 to Nov. 1982 16 months 10.8% in December 1982
July 1990 to March 1991 8 months 7.8% in June 1992
March 2001 to ? ? ? ? ? ? 6% (as of April 2002)

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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