U.S. News

Why the 'Recovery' Is Taking So Long

If the economic recovery seems like a mirage, you're not imagining things.

The data show that the economy has stopped shrinking and started growing, which is good news no matter what. Economists broadly agree that the recession probably ended last summer, which means things ought to be getting better. Yet jobs are still scarce, the housing bust continues, consumers and businesses remain skittish, and many families are barely muddling through. "It's a recovery, yes," says Nariman Behravesh, chief economist for forecasting firm IHS Global Insight. "But it sure doesn't feel like it."

[See how to tell if you're keeping up with the middle class.]

Part of the reason for the slow-motion recovery is the depth and nature of the recession that preceded it. A Federal Reserve study of the past three recessions found that employment, income, spending, stock prices, home values, and wealth all fell much more sharply during the 2007-2009 recession than after the downturns of 2001 or 1991. Loan delinquencies and bankruptcies, correspondingly, rose much faster. That leaves a lot of damage to repair.

The economy also takes longer to recover from recessions these days, like an aging patient who requires more time to bounce back from an injury in his 50s than he did in his 20s. It's not entirely clear why, but technology and globalization probably allow companies to wait longer before they start hiring American workers after a spate of downsizing, which in turns dampens confidence and spending. Here's how long it took for the unemployment rate to peak and start declining after the recessions that ended in the following years:

--1982: 1 month

--1992: 15 months

--2001: 19 months

--2009: ???

Economists aren't sure yet what month the latest recession ended, but August 2009 is a good guess. If the recovery matches the pace from the early 2000s, the unemployment rate, now 9.7 percent, would continue to drift higher for another year, and not start to come down until early or mid 2011. And it could take longer.

Read more... http://news.yahoo.com/s/usnews/20100402/ts_usnews


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Robert R. HendryRobert R. Hendry received both a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Florida. Although he began his career in Pensacola, Florida, Mr. Hendry has practiced law in Orlando for more than thirty years.
Richard D. StonerRichard D. Stoner received a Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University and a Juris Doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law. He has practiced law in Orlando, Florida for more than twenty-five years.
G. Steven BrownG. Steven Brown is a 1975 graduate of the University of Central Florida, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with a major in Accountancy.
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