That's the somewhat optimistic view of economists surveyed by the WSJ. On average, they expect the recession to be over in June 2009, although many individual economists don't see the end coming until the October-December neighborhood. That includes UCLA's Anderson Forecast, which is out this morning with its latest quarterly report. Of course, even a mid-2009 conclusion would mark the longest and most painful downturn since the Great Depression.
The economists on average said the unemployment rate will peak at 8.4% in response to this recession. While that actual rate was surpassed in both the 1970s and 1980s, it would mark a four-percentage-point increase from the low of 4.4% in March 2007. Only the 1973-75 recession, with a 4.1-percentage-point increase, had a larger jump in the postwar period. Adding to consumers' pain is that the end of the recession isn't likely to mark the end of job losses. In past recessions, labor-market contraction continued for months after a downturn's official end. So, while economists, on average, expect the unemployment rate to top out at 8.4%, they forecast an 8.1% rate for December 2009 as job cuts continue into 2010.
These projections assume that the government will step in early next year with some sort of massive fiscal stimulus package.