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A: It's more accurate to say that a recession–the way we use the word–is a period of diminishing activity rather than diminished activity.We identify a month when the economy reached a peak of activity and a later month when the economy reached a trough.On the other hand, the unemployment rate often continues to rise after activity has reached its trough.In this respect, the unemployment rate is a lagging indicator.First, we do not identify economic activity solely with real GDP and real GDI, but use a range of other indicators as well.
Consequently, we picked the peak month based on the clear signal in employment, as well as our consideration of output and other measures.The monthly GDP numbers are noisy and are subject to considerable revision. A: In the past, the NBER has made some small changes to cycle dates, most recently in 1975.No changes have occurred since 1978 when the Business Cycle Dating Committee was formed.In the recession beginning in December 2007 and ending in June 2009, real GDP declined in the first, third, and fourth quarters of 2008 and in the first quarter of 2009.The committee places real Gross Domestic Income on an equal footing with real GDP; real GDI declined for six consecutive quarters in the recent recession.
In that cycle, as well, the dating of the trough relied primarily on output measures.