The coronavirus pandemic-induced recession is on record as one of the deepest--but also the shortest---in United States history, according to the official documentor of economic cycles.
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) concluded in its official report released Monday that the COVID-19 economic contraction only lasted two months, from February 2020 to the following April, making it the shortest recession on record.
"The NBER's traditional definition of a recession involves a decline in economic activity that lasts more than a few months," the institution said in a statement. "Nonetheless, the committee concluded that the unprecedented magnitude of the decline in employment and production, and its broad reach across the entire economy, warranted the designation of this episode as a recession, even though the downturn was briefer than earlier contractions."
And that economic drop was staggering, with U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) plunging 31.4% lower in the second quarter of 2020, only to massively recover in the following quarter, with output rising by 33.4% on the back of unprecedented stimulus from the Federal Reserve.
The NBER said it also based its decision on trends on both GDP and gross domestic income, with most economic indicators returning to pre-pandemic levels. However, employment, which is arguably the most important economic indicator, still lags behind in recovery, with roughly 7 million fewer Americans at work now than before February 2020.
Though devastating, the COVID recession is the briefest in U.S. history, with the second shortest recession being the period between January and July in 1980 following the period of economic stagflation in the late 1970's. The longest ever downturn on record spanned from October 1873 to March 1879, a duration of 65 months.
The decision that the pandemic-induced recession ended more than a year ago did not surprise Wall Street, as many economists have estimated it to be over following the economy's rise in annualized GDP for the past two quarters.