Two years after end of Great Recession, how are we doing?
The Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. That's apparent on Wall Street, less so on Main Street. But the economic recovery is gradually being felt in places like Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Next month marks two years since the end of the Great Recession, the worst economic downturn in 75 years.Skip to next paragraph
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Since then, how has recovery gone? And where is the economy headed?
If someone lost his job in the recession, he might be answering, "What recovery?" If somebody had to sell her house, she might wonder why she ever bought it in the first place. But for anyone who put money into the stock market at a time when the economic outlook was blurry, the answer might be quite different.
Indeed, the economic recovery has either been disappointing or "just fine, thank you."
How Americans feel about the recovery is fairly important – to the recovery itself. If consumers have a sour outlook, that can influence their decisions to buy, for example, new cars or appliances. Big business is adept at sensing this consumer mood, which could govern whether companies hire more workers. And more hiring is what's needed for the economic recovery to continue.
In addition, Americans' attitudes about their economic situation is likely to be the crucial factor when they vote next year in the presidential election, as well as in other political races.
Currently, for the most part, Americans are dubious about whether the economy is performing well. In a poll of 1,013 people conducted between April 20 and 23, the Gallup Organization found that 55 percent still think the economy is in a recession or depression. Another 16 percent say the economy is slowing down. Only 27 percent think it is growing.
"Whatever the economic statistics say, it is not a strong enough recovery so people see it in their daily lives," says Dennis Jacobe, chief economist for Gallup.
"Some big businesses, big banks, wealthy households have done pretty well," he says. "But for a small business, a small bank, it still feels like a recession."
For many Americans, that's not hard to understand considering that the unemployment rate, which peaked at 10.1 percent in October 2009, was 9 percent last month. Home prices, which are how many people estimate their wealth, have fallen 30 percent since 2006, according to Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index of 20 cities. And the nation's gross domestic product, a broad measure of its total output of goods and services, has had an average growth rate of 2.78 percent over the past seven quarters – much slower than after most recessions.
However, the recovery looks more robust if you have investments in the stock market.
Since its low in March 2009, the S&P 500 stock index has gone up 105 percent. In late April, the Dow Jones Industrial Average powered to a three-year high, up 98 percent.