WASHINGTON (AP) - Here's a small consolation: The Great Recession wasn't quite as horrendous as previously thought.
But it was still pretty
horrendous: Updated government estimates from January 2009 through
December 2011 show that the downturn remains by far the worst recession
since the Great Depression.
And growth since the
recession officially ended in June 2009 has been slightly less than
previous estimates. That's a reminder of how weak the recovery has been.
The revisions were released
Friday by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis with
its report on April-June growth. Each year in July, the bureau revises
the previous three years of data on the nation's gross domestic product,
the broadest measure of the economy.
The changes show the
economy shrank 4.7 percent from the start of the recession in December
2007 until it ended three years ago. That's 0.4 percentage point less
than the previous estimate of 5.1 percent.
The main reason for the revision: State and local governments spent more in 2009 than initially thought.
Still, only two previous recessions suffered contractions greater than 3 percent. One was in 1957, the other in 1973.
Since the Great Recession
ended, growth has been modest at best. From July 2009 through the end of
2011, the economy grew a total of 5.8 percent. That's down from an
earlier measure of 6.2 percent.
The economy grew at an
average annual rate of 0.3 percent from 2008 through 2011, the
government said. That's down from an earlier measure of 0.4 percent.
Some quarters were revised
significantly. The government says the economy grew at an annual rate of
4.1 percent in last year's fourth quarter, up from a previous estimate
of only 3 percent. That was because companies added more to their
stockpiles, and governments spent more.
And the first and second
quarters of 2010 were revised down sharply, from nearly 4 percent each
to 2.3 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively. That reflected much less
investment in business equipment and software.
The revisions are based on
more complete data from a range of sources, including annual Census
surveys of retailers and manufacturers and IRS tax records. The IRS data
is made available only after a two-year lag. The Census data are also
Here are the changes the Commerce Department made to the past 12 quarters:
(Figures in percentages)
2009, 1st quarter
2009, 2nd quarter
2009, 3rd quarter
2009, 4th quarter
2010, 1st quarter
2010, 2nd quarter
2010, 3rd quarter
2010, 4th quarter
2011, 1st quarter
2011, 2nd quarter
2011, 3rd quarter
2011, 4th quarter
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