by Stephen Garner
The New York Stock Exchange / Getty Images

The National Bureau of Economic Research, the official arbiter of recessions, said on Monday that the economy hit its peak in February and has since fallen into a recession, as pandemic-related shutdowns brought an end to a record-long expansion.

The committee recognized that the pandemic and the public health response have resulted in a downturn with different characteristics and dynamics than prior recessions. Nonetheless, it concluded that the unprecedented magnitude of the decline in employment and production, and its broad reach across the entire economy, warrants the designation of this episode as a recession, even if it turns out to be briefer than earlier contractions.

A recession is defined as a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, normally visible in production, employment, and other indicators. A recession begins when the economy reaches a peak of economic activity and ends when the economy reaches its trough.

U.S. GDP fell 5 percent in the first quarter and is likely to post the worst decline in history for the second quarter — possibly more than 50 percent.

The peak marks the end of the expansion that began in June 2009 and the beginning of a new recession. The expansion lasted 128 months (or nearly 11 years), the longest in the history of U.S. business cycles dating back to 1854. The previous record was held by the business expansion that lasted for 120 months from March 1991 to March 2001.


  1. Duh.
    I’m a BIG fan of MR, but I’m not sure what good can come from stating the obvious, even if it’s “news”. Many of us are already fighting depression, our survival, and if that weren’t enough, suffering from damage caused by violence. The media at large is already going to plaster this across every newspaper in the land, striking up even more fear and dread and further discouraging retail. Keep the inspirational stories within our industry coming, even if they’re hard to find. Thanks.

    1. With no offense to MR, I couldn’t agree more, Craig. But you forgot to mention anxiety.

      1. I firmly agree with Beecroft and Penner.
        As soon as I read your headline. Not helpful.

  2. its the media that will cause a recession or expansion with its reporting. we can bet that it will be recession because bad news sells good news doesn’t. Shame on the media for the role they play in the way they sway the public. Walter Cronkite never would of let that happen.

  3. Wow! So many fragile male egos in one comment section! A lot of retailers are sure quick to place blame on someone else for their lack of sales. But, maybe it’s that the world has moved on from your stale offerings. Take some accountability. News is news, whether it “upsets” you or not.

    1. Allen, please tell me you were just kidding, or are you really that deaf, dumb and blind to the effects the COVID hysteria (and the recent violence) has had on the retail industry in general? New York remains largely CLOSED, and other areas are just now opening up. Very few of us are sitting around making excuses and whining about our shared woes…we’re trying very hard to make enough rare revenue to pay bills and to get creative to make it to the other side of this mess intact. You have just insulted not just the “fragile male egos” that spoke their mind, but many of the best retailers in the country. Shame on you…MR needs to put you on a leash, or worse.

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