A Normal Recession

by Samuel R. Staley

The Great Recession looks so…normal — at least in retrospect. The so-called Great Recession of 2007–2009 was the upper end of “normal.”

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Business Cycle Dating Committee, all the recessions since the Great Depression have tended to last, on average, 10.8 months. Two of those recessions (1973–75 and 1981–82) were 16 months. The Great Recession’s 18 months was slightly longer.

Here are the data for the recessions and their months of duration, according to NBER:

1945: 8
1948–1949: 11
1953–1954: 10
1957–1958: 8
1960–1961: 10
1969–70: 11
1973–75: 16
1980: 6
1981–82: 16
1990–1991: 8
2001: 8
2007–2009: 18

Of course, in the midst of the financial collapse, it was hard to tell how long it would last. Nevertheless, the recession ended in June 2009, according to NBER, well before the spending side of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 had time to take effect.

Samuel R. Staley is Robert W. Galvin fellow and director of urban and land use policy at the Reason Foundation.

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