According to the NBER, the recession is over. Not only that, it ended in June, 2009:
The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research met yesterday by conference call. At its meeting, the committee 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.
The very next paragraph is also important (underlining mine):
In determining that a trough occurred in June 2009, 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. Rather, the committee determined only that the recession ended and a recovery began in that month. A recession is a period of falling economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales. The trough marks the end of the declining phase and the start of the rising phase of the business cycle. Economic activity is typically below normal in the early stages of an expansion, and it sometimes remains so well into the expansion.
That first sentence confuses me. A “trough” marks the end of the declining phase but the committee did not conclude that conditions have improved? I guess what they are saying is that things haven’t really gotten better but they also haven’t gotten worse.
To me, it feels like we are still in a recession. Sure, we may not be “officially” in a recession but things definitely have not felt “better.” I realize “feelings” aren’t the same as facts. The S&P 500 Index is up nearly 28% (July 2009 – intraday, September 27, 2010) but unemployment is still over 9.6% (much higher if you include those who have given up looking for work) and GDP, although growing, only grew at an annual rate of 1.6% during the second quarter. To top all that off, the government is still fretting about the economy. So, although we may not be in a recession, try telling that to an unemployed person.