The committee places particular emphasis on two monthly measures of activity across the entire economy: (1) personal income less transfer payments, in real terms and (2) employment.In addition, we refer to two indicators with coverage primarily of manufacturing and goods: (3) industrial production and (4) the volume of sales of the manufacturing and wholesale-retail sectors adjusted for price changes.We also look at monthly estimates of real GDP such as those prepared by Macroeconomic Advisers (see
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Because a recession influences the economy broadly and is not confined to one sector, we emphasize economy-wide measures of economic activity.
We view real GDP as the single best measure of aggregate economic activity. The traditional role of the committee is to maintain a monthly chronology, however, and the BEA's real GDP estimates are only available quarterly.
In determining whether a recession has occurred and in identifying the approximate dates of the peak and the trough, we therefore place considerable weight on the estimates of real GDP issued by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the U. For this reason, we refer to a variety of monthly indicators to determine the months of peaks and troughs.
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.
A recession begins just after the economy reaches a peak of activity and ends as the economy reaches its trough.
Between trough and peak, the economy is in an expansion.
Expansion is the normal state of the economy; most recessions are brief and they have been rare in recent decades.
Business Cycle Dating Committee, National Bureau of Economic Research January 7, 2008 This report is also available as a PDF file. The chronology identifies the dates of peaks and troughs that frame economic recession or expansion.
The National Bureau's Business Cycle Dating Committee maintains a chronology of the U. The period from a peak to a trough is a recession and the period from a trough to a peak is an expansion.