Data shows deeper US recession, sharper slowdown


WASHINGTON: The Great Recession” was even greater than previously thought, and theUS economy has skated uncomfortably close to a new one this year.

New data on Friday showed the 2007-2009US recession was much more severe than prior measures had found, with economic output declining a cumulative of 5.1 per cent instead of 4.1 per cent.

The report also showed the current slowdown began earlier and has been deeper than previously thought, with growth in the first quarter advancing at only a 0.4 per cent annual pace.

The data indicated the economy began slowing in the fourth quarter of last year before high gasoline prices and supply chain disruptions from Japan’s earthquake had hit, suggesting the weakness is more fundamental and less temporary than economists had believed.

The annual revisions ofUS GDP data from the Commerce Department showed economic growth contracted at an annual average rate of 0.3 per cent between 2007 and 2010. Output over that stretch had previously been estimated to have been flat.

At the depth of the recession in the fourth quarter of 2008, output plummeted at an annual rate of 8.9 per cent — the steepest quarterly decline since 1958, and 2.1 per centage points more than previously reported.

For a table, see see [ID:nCLATIE70O] The recession was already the deepest since the Great Depression and, while it still pales in comparison, the data help explain why it is taking so long to shake off its legacy.

“The general picture of the recession remains pretty much the same, it was a record decline before and now it is a even bigger decline,”Steven Landefeld, the director of the department’sBureau of Economic Analysis, told reporters.

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