The National Bureau of Economic Research is a private, nonprofit, and nonpartisan entity charged with determining when recessions begin and end in the United States. To that end, it maintains a chronology of the peaks and troughs of US business cycles and defines a recession as “a decline in economic activity lasting more than a few months,” taking into account “the depth of the contraction, its duration and whether economic activity declined widely throughout the country. ” (See here)
In normal times, some analysts argue that it takes at least two consecutive quarters of contraction, or negative growth, to speak of a recession. However, this time it was different, because the peak of economic activity was reached in February 2020 and the lowest point occurred the following April, that is, “the recession lasted two months, which means that it was the shortest US recession than has been registered.”
The fact that it was brief did not ignore that the fall was steep, deep and dizzying. In those two months, the United States lost 22 million jobs, unemployment reached almost 15 percent, and the economy contracted 10 percent. As described by the Bureau of Economic Research, “the unprecedented magnitude of the decline in employment and output, as well as the breadth of its scope throughout the economy, underpinned the designation of this episode as a recession, although the fall was shorter than the previous contractions. “
* International analyst and consultant, former Director of the ECLAC Office in Washington. Economics and finance commentator for CNN en Español TV and radio, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO and other media.