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    Recession Loosing Steam, Not Over Yet

    Economists see stabilization in the second half of this year.

    WASHINGTON -- The U.S. recession appears to be easing, but is not over yet, according to a survey of economists released yesterday.

    According to a Reuters report, the quarterly industry survey of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) found demand is stabilizing, but a small majority of the 102 respondents said their firms had not yet seen the bottom of the recession.

    The survey "provides new evidence that the U.S. recession is abating, but few signs of an immediate recovery," said Sara Johnson, managing director of global macroeconomics for IHS Global Insight, who helped analyze the report for the NABE.

    Johnson reported industry demand was still declining in the second quarter of 2009, but the breadth of the decline narrowed considerably since late 2008, hinting at business conditions stabilizing in the second half of the year.

    The net demand index dropped to -5 from the first quarter's -14. In the fourth quarter it registered -28, Reuters reported.

    Most economists look for growth to return in the second half of the year, but they caution that the recovery is likely to be sluggish as the survey found profitability remained weak in the second quarter.

    Companies reporting declining profits outnumbered companies posting higher profits for the sixth straight quarter, according to the report. However, the rate at which profits are shrinking is slowing.

    There was no consensus on whether or not the economy has hit bottom, as 55 percent believed the low point has not yet been hit, with 14 percent projecting their companies will see their lowest sales in 2010 or beyond. Forty-five percent, however, said the worst was already over, according to Reuters.

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