Research Group Says U.S. Is in Recession

The National Bureau of Economic Research, considered the official arbiter of recessions, could declare on Friday that the U.S. economy has entered a recession, the Wall Street Journal reported in its online edition on Friday.

The paper said the NBER has scheduled a conference call for Friday afternoon during which members are expected to say the longest U.S. expansion on record gave way to recession in March. The report cited panel member Robert Gordon, an economics professor at Northwestern University.

The report said some members of the private Cambridge, Massachusetts-based group said a decision on Friday isn't a foregone conclusion, but that they nevertheless expected some kind of announcement.

A public announcement of the decision may take a few more days, the Journal said.

Most economists loosely define a recession as two quarters of economic contraction but the NBER uses a more complex definition, saying a recession is a significant fall in activity across a broad range of sectors that lasts more than a few months.

The determination that a recession has begun is made by the Bureau's Business Cycle Dating Committee.

The bureau has been updating its memo on a monthly basis as the U.S. economy sails through choppy waters. The agency caused a stir earlier this year when a memo it issued cited "the possibility that a recession began recently," but it has steered away from such language recently.