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Panel: Still Unclear if Recession Over

January 15, 2003
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An elite economic research panel that monitors U.S. business cycles said on Wednesday it was still too early to tell if the recession that began in March 2001 had given way to recovery.

"According to the most recent data, the U.S. economy continues to experience growth in output but declines in employment," the National Bureau of Economic Research said in a memo posted to its Web site.

"Recent data confirm our earlier conclusion that additional time is needed to be confident about the interpretation of the movements of the economy last year and this year," the NBER added.

The NBER's five-member Business Cycle Dating Committee has been poring over data to determine if the economic contraction that started nearly two years ago has ended and if so, when. Many analysts believe that a recovery likely began late in 2001 but the committee is holding back on making a definitive finding, in part because the economy has remained sluggish over the past year.

Robert Hall, chairman of the Dating Committee, has said that the group wants to rule out the possibility that the economy has suffered a renewed downturn. If that were the case, the group would have to determine if any renewed contraction amounted to a new recession or if it were a continuation of the 2001 downturn.

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