Thursday, September 23, 2010

Feel better? Great Recession has ended

Way back when, in a more innocent time, "The Dating Game" was one of the oh-so-nearly-risqué game shows produced for network television by Chuck Barris.

And every time I hear mention of the National Bureau of Economic Research's Business Cycle Dating Committee, I think of the show, because of the clever "Dating Game" treatment Fortune magazine gave the group -- complete with iconic daisy graphics -- in a 2001 story explaining its complex work.

So the show's peppy theme song came to mind this week when the news broke that the committee finally had put an end date on the Great Recession: June 2009.

Yes, it took the panel more than a year to assess when the economy began to rebound, just as it took until late 2008 for the group to set the start of the recession at December 2007. Why the lag? A Q&A explains. (And if you really want to make your eyes bleed, click on the Excel spreadsheet on the committee's main page to read all the numeric details.)

But that doesn't mean we're back to boom times.

Coincidentally on the same day the Great Recession was put to bed, the New York Times ran another story in its excellent series "The New Poor," through which it has been detailing the downturn's personal toll. Remember that among the country's 14.9 million unemployed are more than 6.2 million who have been out of work longer than six months. And at the current average of just 82,000 new jobs created monthly, it will take awhile to get all of them (us) back to work.

Yet things are beginning to feel different now than they did during the dark days of 2009: more listings on job boards, the promise of more holiday temp hiring, a decline in "mass" layoffs (50 workers or more).

And I was lucky this week in landing two preliminary job interviews, after what seemed like many months of near misses. (I couldn't even finagle a ticket into an invitation-only journalism job fair.) Fingers crossed, I might soon be able to put an end date on my own personal downturn.

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