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CAMBRIDGE September 20, 2010 - The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research met yesterday by conference call. The trough marks the end of the recession that began in December 2007 and the beginning of an expansion.

At its meeting, the committee determined that a trough in business activity occurred in the U. The recession lasted 18 months, which makes it the longest of any recession since World War II.

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It places particular emphasis on measures that refer to the total economy rather than to particular sectors.

These include a measure of monthly GDP that has been developed by the private forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers, measures of monthly GDP and GDI that have been developed by two members of the committee in independent research (James Stock and Mark Watson, (available here), real personal income excluding transfers, the payroll and household measures of total employment, and aggregate hours of work in the total economy.

Rather, a recession is a significant decline in 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.

For more information, see the latest announcement from the NBER's Business Cycle Dating Committee, dated 9/20/10.

The committee places less emphasis on monthly data series for industrial production and manufacturing-trade sales, because these refer to particular sectors of the economy.