FOR THE WEEK OF DEC. 08, 2008
Economic recession becomes official -- if any doubt existed
You needn't be an economist to spot hard times. Find a report that reflects the recession's impact.
Business news affects families and communities. Look for ordinary folks' comments about the stock market, the auto industry or other economic setbacks.
Faith, optimism and the holiday mood help balance the financial gloom. Share a photo, story or column that lifts the spirit.
A group of experts has declared the obvious: The U.S. economy is in a recession, which actually began a year ago. The National Bureau of Economic Research, created in 1920, says declining employment, industrial production and personal income meet its definition of a recession: "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months."
The confirmation reinforces evidence of tough times that stretches from Wall Street to Detroit automakers to holiday season shoppers. Recessions are nothing new -- this is America's fourth since 1980. But the 12-month-old current slump is already longer than the average for all recessions since World War II, according to the national research bureau.
So the big question is what's ahead in 2009, when the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama will try to boost confidence and turn things around. Some experts fear we're in for a tough ride. "This downturn promises to be the worst since the Great Depression in the 1930s," said Joshua Shapiro, chief economist at a global forecasting firm in New York. "We've only just started. I can't see bottoming out until sometime in 2010."
U.S. Treasury secretary says: "While we are making progress, the journey ahead will continue to be a difficult one." -- Henry Paulson, presidential Cabinet member
Columnist writes: "If the National Bureau of Economic Research couldn't ascertain that we were in a recession until one year after it started, I'm wondering what they do all day." -- Stanley Bing, Fortune magazine columnist
Consumer says: "I'm more on a budget than ever before. I'm more picky. I think, 'Is it really worth it?' I'm spending less on everyone [this Christmas] but trying to make it seem like we're not spending less on everyone. It's a real challenge." -- Jenn Tawney, 28, Perry Hill, Md.
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