The recession is “obviously” over, according to this Reuters report and several others elsewhere, because GDP is projected to be positive in the third quarter.
But wait a minute:
The (National Association of Business Economists) survey predicted that the unemployment rate will rise to 10 percent in the first quarter of 2010 and edge down to 9.5 percent by the end of that year. The labor market was not expected to regain most of the jobs destroyed in the recession until 2012 or beyond
Pending revisions in the coming months, the economy lost 768,000 seasonally adjusted jobs during the third quarter, an average of 256,000 per month.
The recession, as defined by the pinheads at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), supposedly began in December 2007, during a quarter of 2.1% annualized GDP growth. It supposedly continued through the first and second quarters of 2008, even though second quarter growth was 1.5%. The NBER declared the period recessionary because its other metrics were supposedly sufficiently negative (they really weren’t, but stay with me on this). One of those metrics was job losses, which averaged 133,000 during the first six months of 2008.
So rather than wait for the NBER to decide whether the recession still exists while almost twice as many jobs are being lost as were lost during the early quarters of the NBER-defined recession (256k divided by 133k), the press is deciding that the recession is over because growth is going positive.
Can you say “double standard”?
By the way, my quick eyeball review of BLS data indicates that if the NBER does decide that the third quarter wasn’t recessionary, it will be the first time it has done so during a period of so much quarterly job loss, even after adjusting for workforce size.
This illustrates yet again why the term As Normal People Define It — two or more periods of GDP contraction — should be the only acceptable definition.
Since we’re on the topic of jobs — One can’t help but notice that the press is mighty tolerant of the high degree of economic misery these days. This link page at Time headlines a special report called “Out of Work in America” that is almost totally devoid of anger at the situation. The message is, “Oh well, it’s here, now shut up and deal with it.” This tone would not be present if George W. Bush were still in office.
This is especially ironic, given that the people who really bear the responsibility for starting all of this are in control, and are the very ones who are perpetuating the misery.
Oh, and how much have you heard about the homeless population in the past 11 months? Do a Google News search on “homeless population growing” (not entered with with quotes), and you see no national establishment media interest.
But there is this item:
The number of homeless individuals and families (in New York City) is now higher than at any time since the 1930s, with 39,000 people—16,500 of them children—forced to sleep in the city’s shelters every night. This is before the onset of winter, when the demand for shelter surges.
Yes, it comes from the World Socialist Web Site, but that’s actually my point. In a Reagan or Bush administration, a paragraph such as this would have perked the interest of supposedly mainstream but actually socialistic-sympathetic reporters. With Obama in the White House, there’s nothing.
It will be interesting to see how the establishment press finesses its Thanksgiving ritual of highlighting the homeless this year.