List of economic expansions in the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

In the United States the unofficial beginning and ending dates of national economic expansions have been defined by an American private nonprofit research organization known as the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). The NBER defines an expansion as a period when economic activity rises substantially, spreads across the economy, and typically lasts for several years.[1]

During the 19th century, the United States experienced frequent boom and bust cycles. This period was characterized by short, frequent periods of expansion, typically punctuated by periods of sharp recession. This cyclical pattern continued through the Great Depression. Economic growth since 1945 has been more stable with fewer recessions when compared to previous eras.

Great Depression onwards[edit]

A graph of annualized GDP change from 1923 to 2009.
Annualized GDP change from 1923 to 2009. Data are annual from 1923 to 1946 and quarterly from 1947 to the second quarter of 2009.

Following the end of World War II and the large adjustment as the economy adjusted from wartime to peacetime in 1945, the collection of many economic indicators, such as unemployment and GDP became standardized. Expansions after World War II may be compared to each other much more easily than previous expansions because of these available data. The listed dates and durations are from the official chronology of the National Bureau of Economic Research.[1]

The National Bureau of Economic Research dates expansions on a monthly basis. From the trough of the recession of 1945 to the late-2000s recession, there have been eleven periods of expansion, lasting an average of fifty-nine months.[1]

Included during this period is the post–World War II economic expansion through the 1973–75 recession, a period of stagflation between 1974 and 1981, and the Great Moderation from 1982 to the start of the late-2000s recession.

For each expansion, the percentage change in employment from the previous recession trough to the next recession as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics[2] is included, in addition to average annual gross domestic product growth, and expansion length as defined by the NBER.[1]

Dates Duration (months) Employment Growth Annual GDP Growth Description
Oct 1945–
Nov 1948
37 +17.6% +5.6% After a sharp, brief recession in 1945 as the United States demobilized, the economy expanded at a brisk pace. The expansion lasted just over three years, followed by another brief recession in 1948.
Oct 1949–
July 1953
45 +17.7% +4.4% The United States exited recession in late 1949, and another robust expansion began. This expansion coincided with the Korean War, after which the Federal Reserve initiated more restrictive monetary policy. The slowdown in economic activity led to the recession of 1953, bringing an end to nearly four years of expansion.
May 1954–
Aug 1957
39 +9.0% +3.3% Expansion resumed following a return to growth in May 1954. Employment and GDP growth slowed relative to the previous two expansions.
April 1958–
April 1960
24 +7.7% +4.1% A brief, two-year period of expansion occurred between 1958 and 1960, followed by another monetary recession in 1960.
Feb 1961–
Dec 1969
106 +33.4% +3.2% Another expansion began in 1961 that increased employment by a third. Incomes rose and poverty fell sharply. In addition, the ongoing Vietnam War contributed to expansive fiscal policy, at the cost of rising inflation as the 1960s drew to a close.
Nov 1970–
Nov 1973
36 +11.7% +3.1% Growth resumed after the brief recession of 1969–70.
Mar 1975–
Jan 1980
58 +19.6% +2.9% Following a steep recession between 1973 and 1975, an expansion occurred through another recession in 1980. During this period, inflation was high and other economic indicators were flat in a phenomenon known as stagflation. This expansion was followed by another steep recession.
Dec 1982–
July 1990
92 +23.7% +2.9% Inflation was under control by the mid-1980s. Influenced by low and stable oil prices in combination with a steep rise in private investment and rising incomes, the economy entered what was at the time the second longest peacetime economic expansion in U.S. history.[3][4]
Mar 1991–
Mar 2001
120 +22.5% +2.1% Following a mild recession[3] that ended in 1991, the U.S. entered into its longest period of economic expansion, lasting exactly 10 years.[1] Growth was fueled by the Dot Com bubble, as corporations and the federal government made significant purchases of computer equipment and software, especially during the last six years of the expansion.
Nov 2001–
Dec 2007
73 +6.3% +1.4% Another brief recession occurred in 2001, followed by moderate expansion. The bubble in home prices that began in the late 1990s continued, fueling employment growth in construction, financial services, and other sectors related to housing. A steep recession began at the end of 2007, bringing an end to the Great Moderation, a period of stable economic expansion and employment growth that began in the early 1980s.
June 2009–
96+ Following the Great Recession of 2008-2009, inflation continued to be subdued even as employment recovered, allowing for an unprecedented period of over six years when the federal funds rate was at a near zero level.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Hall, Robert (October 21, 2003). "The NBER's Recession Dating Procedure". National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved February 29, 2008. 
  2. ^ Goodman, Christopher J.; Mance, Steven M. (2011). "Employment Loss and the 2007–2009 Recession: An Overview" (PDF). Monthly Labor Review. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 134 (4): 3–12. Retrieved 1 May 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Gardner, Jennifer M. (1994). "The 1990-1991 Recession: How Bad was the Labor Market?" (PDF). Monthly Labor Review. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 117 (6): 3–11. Retrieved 6 April 2011. 
  4. ^ Carl E. Walsh (1993). "What Caused the 1990–1991 Recession" (PDF). Economic Review. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (2). 
  5. ^ Lockhart, Dennis (August 10, 2015). "A Story of Economic Progress". Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Retrieved August 18, 2015.