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Good news, everybody: The recession ended over a year ago! (Now get back to work, you unemployed slackers.)

The Great Recession ended in June 2009, according to the body charged with dating when economic downturns begin and end.

[ . . . ]

The National Bureau of Economic Research, an independent group of economists, released a statement Monday saying economic data now clearly point to the economy turning higher last summer. That makes the 18-month recession that started in December 2007 the longest and deepest downturn for the U.S. economy since the Great Depression.

[ . . . ]

Gross domestic product has recovered to about 70% of its pre-recession level, said Lakshman Achuthan, managing director of Economic Cycle Research Institute and an expert in the dating of recessions. Other measures followed by economists, such as industrial production and sales, have also rebounded nicely, he said.

I don’t dispute the technical accuracy of the claim. But it confirms what I’ve long suspected: The popular use of the term “recession” is useless. In my forty-one years on this earth (1969-2010) I don’t think there has ever been a time when you couldn’t find a least one-third of the population claiming that the economy was currently in a “recession.”

Since that term is all but meaningless, what word can we use to better describe our economic situation?

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