When Did the Great Recession End?

A Brief History of American Recessions

Monthly Consumer Spending Rises Again During August 2010. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The recession that began in the late 2000s was, to date, the worst economic downturn in the United States since the Great Depression. They didn't call it the "Great Recession" for nothing.

So how long did the recession last? When did it begin? When did it end? How did the length of the recession compare to previous recessions?

Here's a brief Q and A on the recession.

When did the Great Recession begin?

December 2007, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private, nonprofit research group.

When did the Great Recession end?

June 2009, though lingering effects such as high unemployment continued to plague the United States well beyond that date.

"In determining that a trough occurred in June 2009, the committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity," the NBER reported in September 2010. "Rather, the committee determined only that the recession ended and a recovery began in that month."

And a slow recovery it would be.

How does the committee define a recession and a recovery?

"A recession is a period of falling economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales," NBER said.

"The trough marks the end of the declining phase and the start of the rising phase of the business cycle. Economic activity is typically below normal in the early stages of an expansion, and it sometimes remains so well into the expansion."

How does the length of the Great Recession compare to past downturns?

The recession lasted 18 months, making it the longest of any recession since World War II, according to the committee. Previously the longest postwar recessions were those of 1973-75 and 1981-82, both of which lasted 16 months.

When and for how long did the other modern recessions occur?

The recession of 2001 lasted eight months, from March through November of that year. The recession of the early 1990s also lasted eight months, from July 1990 through March 1991. The recession of the early 1980s lasted 16 months, from July 1981 through November 1982.

How did the government deal with the Great Recession?

In order to deal with the nation’s worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Congress passed legislation that increased discretionary government spending in order to stimulate the economy. This legislation created programs ranging from financial assistance to large banks and car manufacturers to direct tax rebates for low-income households. In addition, Congress funded a series of massive “shovel-ready” public works projects, such as highway construction and improvement. At its peak, in early 2009, total discretionary government spending reached about $1.2 trillion in annual terms, or 7% of the nation’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In other words, ending the Great Recession required spending a lot of money the government simply had not planned to spend.

How did the Great Recession affect taxpayers?

Recessions, especially “Great” ones, can be costly affairs for taxpayers. According to the Federal Reserve Board, the Great Recession raised the U.S. federal debt and fiscal deficit to record peacetime levels. The federal debt increased from 62% of the GDP in 2007 before the recession to over 100% in 2013, five years after the supposed end of the recession. Indeed, the effects of the Great Depression of 2008 will linger for years to come.

Updated by Robert Longley