US Not in Recession, Latest Figures Imply

01 March 2002

Plenty of recent data have raised hopes that the US economy is emerging from recession. The latest figures, however, suggest it wasn't in a recession in the first place.

The Commerce Department has released revised figures for economic growth in the fourth quarter, raising its estimate of year-on-year growth from 0.2% to 1.4% on the back of robust consumer expenditure.

America's economy has supposedly been contracting (i.e. in recession) since March - the date assigned by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the official arbiter of when boom turns to bust. However, these new figures suggest the economy has actually expanded 0.1% year-on-year since the ‘recession’ is said to have begun.

Not that this is the last word on the matter - the numbers could be revised again, and the NBER declared that its estimates were based on other factors, such as employment and manufacturing output. Industry observers now wait with bated breath to discover whether 2001 was in fact a boom year.

Data sourced from: Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff