The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) said today that the United States entered a recession in March, the month in which the longest expansion in U.S. history celebrated its 10th anniversary. The committee, composed of academic economists from Harvard, Stanford and other prestigious universities, posted its decision on itswebsite.
NBER’s announcement means the country’s longest expansion lasted exactly 120 months; the previous record for uninterrupted economic growth was set in the 1960s.
"The committee is satisfied that the total contraction in the economy is sufficient to merit the determination that a recession is under way," NBER said, adding that the U.S. might have escaped a recession if it wasn’t for the September 11 terrorist attacks. "The attacks clearly deepened the contraction and may have been an important factor in turning the episode into a recession.”
The NBER looks at four major economic indicators to gauge the economy's health. Indicators of industrial production, employment and wholesale-retail trade were well within recession territory, the economists said.
``The president has been worried about the strength of the economy for a long period of time,'' White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. ``If today's report indicates from an economic or statistical point of view that we're in a recession, that makes it even more important for the Senate to take action.”