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For example, the unemployment rate reached its lowest level prior to the December 2007 peak of activity in May 2007 at 4.4 percent and climbed to 5.0 percent by December 2007.On the other hand, the unemployment rate often continues to rise after activity has reached its trough.We designated June 2009 as the trough, six months before the trough in employment, which is consistent with earlier trough dates in the NBER business-cycle chronology.In the 2001 recession, we found a clear signal in employment and a mixed one in the various measures of output.Q: How do the cyclical fluctuations in the unemployment rate relate to the NBER business-cycle chronology?A: The unemployment rate is a trendless indicator that moves in the opposite direction from most other cyclical indicators.In 2001, for example, the recession did not include two consecutive quarters of decline in real GDP.In the recession beginning in December 2007 and ending in June 2009, real GDP declined in the first, third, and fourth quarters of 2008 and in the first quarter of 2009.
The differences between these two sets of estimates were particularly evident in the recessions of 20-2009.
Q: How do the movements of unemployment claims inform the Bureau's thinking?
A: A bulge in jobless claims usually forecasts declining employment and rising unemployment, but we do not use the initial claims numbers in determining our chronology, partly because of noise in that data series.
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Q: The financial press often states the definition of a recession as two consecutive quarters of decline in real GDP.Q: How does the committee weight employment in determining the dates of peaks and troughs? In the 2007-2009 recession, the central indicators–real GDP and real GDI–gave mixed signals about the peak date and a clear signal about the trough date.