The National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday that the United States has been in a recession since December 2007, making official what most Americans have already believed about the state of the economy.
The NBER is a private group of leading economists charged with dating the start and end of economic downturns. It typically takes 6 to 18 months after the beginning of a recession to declare its start. The NBER similarly does not declare an end to the recession until long after the "expansion" has begun.
The current recession will likely prove to be one of the longest downturns since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The past two recessions (1990-1991 and 2001) lasted eight months each, and only two of the 10 previous post-Depression downturns lasted as long as a full year, according to the NBER.