Recession may be over, but effects still linger

Freedom New Mexico

Technically, the recession ended last year. So say experts who calculate such things. Most people probably didn’t notice.

The national unemployment rate hovers at 9.6 percent. We imagine out-of-work Americans don’t feel a year removed from recession. Sales in many industries continue sluggish. In some industries, worse than sluggish. Those folks probably don’t feel as if the recession ended for them, either.

But according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private panel and official arbiter of economic contractions and expansions, the recession that began in December 2007, the longest since World War II, ended in June 2009, regardless of whether anyone noticed. We imagine for most people the past 15 months seemed a lot like the previous 18.

The Business Cycle Dating Committee at the bureau uses gross domestic product, real income, employment, industrial production and wholesale-retail sales to define recession. When overall business activity stops declining and begins to rise, it’s considered an expansionary period and the recession’s over.

Nevertheless, great numbers of employers remain reluctant to add the expense of new employees. Consumers with cash remain tight-fisted generally, and companies with money in the bank seem to prefer keeping it there rather than risking it by expanding. There’s money to lend, but not many banks or businesses are engaged quite yet.

In this election year, economic uncertainties are exacerbated by political unknowns, such as what new added costs government may yet impose.

We’re cautiously optimistic the economic corner was turned last year, but so far the going’s slow on the road to robust economy.