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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The U.S. economic recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic officially ended in April 2020, the National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday.

By the numbers: The NBER initially said the recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic began in February 2020, making this is the shortest recession on record.

Why it matters: While some define recessions as two consecutive quarters of decline in real GDP, that measure is imprecise and lacks nuance.

  • The NBER considers changes in income, employment, retail sales, and industrial production in determining if there has been a "significant decline in economic activity."

What they're saying: "The NBER’s traditional definition of a recession involves a decline in economic activity that lasts more than a few months," the institution said in a statement.

  • "Nonetheless, the committee concluded that the unprecedented magnitude of the decline in employment and production, and its broad reach across the entire economy, warranted the designation of this episode as a recession."

Go deeper

Kate Marino, author of Markets
Oct 6, 2021 - Economy & Business

Service sector grew in September despite shortages, weak job gains

Data: Institute for Supply Management; Chart: Axios Visuals

Two more measures of economic activity released Tuesday showed expansion during the month of September. But growth was held back by the macro themes of the moment: continuing supply shortages and weak employment gains.

Driving the news: The Institute for Supply Management’s Services PMI Index (which measures all non-manufacturing activity) increased — barely — to 61.9 from 61.7 in August. Consensus expectations were for the index to decline to 60.

Surprising pandemic side effect: Soaring trade deficits

Source: Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

Inflation and jobs may get all the economic headlines, but meanwhile a big shift is taking place in the underpinnings of the world economy: The U.S. trade deficit is soaring.

What's happening: Americans' spending on imported physical goods has gone through the roof, while exports are growing slowly, making the U.S. the world's consumer of last resort.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Third Way: "Big Lie" could become "Big Coup"

Graphic: Third Way

Third Way, the center-left think tank, is urging fellow Democrats to respond to the Capitol riot with "the size, scope, and seriousness of a presidential campaign," co-founder Matt Bennett tells me.

Driving the news: "For the first time in U.S. history, a party must mount two parallel presidential campaigns: one to win the election, and the other to prevent its theft," Bennett said, calling this "a Paul Revere moment."