Jun 8, 2020 - Economy & Business

U.S. recession officially began in February

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The U.S. economy peaked in February before sliding into a recession as the coronavirus pandemic hit, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, a group that’s considered the official determiners of when recessions begin and end.

Why it matters: There was no doubt the U.S. was in the midst of a recession, given the shelter-in-place measures that brought economic activity to a near halt and caused millions of layoffs — but this is the group's fastest call yet, as it's sometimes taken as long as a year to make such calls in the past.

What they’re saying: The research group says it's declaring a recession — even though, by definition, a recession lasts longer than a few months, and this particular downturn might not be as long-lasting.

  • "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," NBER researchers said in a release.
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