NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The Great Recession ended in June 2009, according to the body charged with dating when economic downturns begin and end.
But the news is little comfort to the millions of Americans still out of work, underwater on their mortgages or uncertain about the future.
The National Bureau of Economic Research, an independent group of economists, released a statement Monday saying economic data now clearly point to the economy turning higher last summer. That makes the 18-month recession that started in December 2007 the longest and deepest downturn for the U.S. economy since the Great Depression.
Still, weaker economic data over the past few months have led to rising fears of a double-dip recession.
In its statement, the NBER acknowledged the risk, but said “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 NBER said it “did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity.” Rather, it decided that June was when the economy hit bottom, and that it has been slowly but steadily growing since then.
“Economic activity is typically below normal in the early stages of an expansion, and it sometimes remains so well into the expansion,” said the NBER.