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Recovery Stronger than '91-'92

The Economic Cycle Research Institute said in a report issued Tuesday that "an objective reading of the best-known barometers of the U.S. economy - the jobless rate and gross domestic product growth - shows the current `jobless recovery' to be stronger than the last recovery in the early 1990s."

On a preliminary read of the available data, ECRI determines that the 2001 recession - which began in March 2001 - ended in December 2001.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, the official arbiter of business cycle dating, has indicated that the recession started in March 2001, but has not issued an official statement on the end of the recession. The NBER did not officially determine that the recession that began in July 1990 ended in March 1991 until December 1992.

In making its statement on the current recovery's relative strength, ECRI compared the behavior of the jobless rate and GDP growth in the two comparable periods.

In March 2003, 15 months after ECRI's tentative recession trough of December 2001, the jobless rate was 5.8%, unchanged from its level in December 2001. By contrast, in June 1992, 15 months after the March 1991 recession trough, the jobless rate was 7.8%, a full percentage point above its March 1991 level of 6.8%.

Similarly, in 2002, the year that followed the 2001 recession, GDP rose by 2.9% compared to a more modest 2.3% growth in the four quarters that followed the 1990-91 recession.