The National Bureau of Economic Research, the arbiter of when recessions begin and end, has reported that the Great Recession ended June 2009.
In a report released Monday, the NBER's Business Cycle Dating Committee said it "determined that a trough in business activity occurred in the U.S. economy in June 2009. The trough marks the end of the recession that began in December 2007 and the beginning of an expansion. The recession lasted 18 months, which makes it the longest of any recession since World War II. Previously the longest postwar recessions were those of 1973-75 and 1981-82, both of which lasted 16 months."
NBER also explained why a decision took so long. "The committee waited to make its decision until revisions in the National Income and Product Accounts, released on July 30 and August 27, 2010, clarified the 2009 time path of the two broadest measures of economic activity, real Gross Domestic Product (real GDP) and real Gross Domestic Income (real GDI)." In other words, there was no need to call an end to the downturn until it was clear that a meaningful recovery had begun.
Despite calling the end of the recession, the NBER warned that the economy is not yet out of the woods. "The committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity." Many economists believe that those conditions do not exist today. Joblessness and the housing markets are simply too troubled. And there is still some chance of a second dip in GDP if those situations do not improve.