A recession is defined as a period of significantly reduced general economic activity.
While that's not very specific, many believe Wall Street could be operating differently, and the housing market could be less volatile. And the labor market could be totally different, Americans might say.
That's where a little-known group known as the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts comes into play.
The group is made up of eight economists who sit on what is called the Business Cycle Committee. They examine everything about the economy and decide if a recession is happening or not.
The committee has been clear: so far this year we aren't in one.
So why aren't we in a recession, and why were so many predictions missing the mark?
The U.S. economy has been quite resilient.
Jerome Powell of the Federal Reserve recently made remarks on the topic while traveling in Europe.
He is the chairman of the U.S. central bank and is partially responsible for all those interest rate hikes that have happened over the last year.
Basic economics taught for years that if you aggressively hike interest rates, it will lead to a drop in demand for goods and services. That can mean less revenue for businesses, which results in layoffs and eventually a recession being declared.
So why hasn't one happened?
The labor market is really pulling the economy. Jobs are being created, and some would say there have been some fairly strong wage gains.
One clue could be what Powell said about the workforce.
Unemployment has been below 4% since February of last year. Some Americans have certainly faced layoffs, but the data shows many are finding new jobs quickly.
Will a recession still happen?
There is more work to do, and there are more rate hikes likely to come.
Powell said for weeks that he still thinks inflation is too high, which means more interest rates are on the horizon. Maybe later this month.
There are new concerns to worry about too. The unemployment rate did go up in May, and there is some concern about commercial real estate. With more Americans working from home and not coming into cities, more businesses are rethinking the need for office space.
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