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KAI RYSSDAL: Welcome to the inaugural Marketplace Recession Checklist. A handy list of things to look for as you try to figure out whether we're in one or not.
ITEM 1: The Housing Market
RYSSDAL: New home sales are down. Used home sales are down. Construction companies, home supply stores, they're all down. Prices are down. So, yes, as far as the housing sector is concerned, it's recession.
ITEM 2: Unemployment
RYSSDAL: There are two numbers to look at with unemployment: The rate, which we learned today has hit 5.7 percent, a four-year high. And, the number of jobs in the economy -- down 51,000 last month, the seventh-consecutive month of declines. A recession indicator? Probably.
ITEM 3: Consumer spending
RYSSDAL: This one's actually closely tied to the jobs number and the wages we get for having a job. They're not really keeping up with inflation. Although, spending was reasonably solid last quarter -- thanks mostly to the tax-rebate checks -- so let's put this one in the toss-up column.
ITEM 4: Gross domestic product
RYSSDAL: The classic definition of recession is two straight quarters of a shrinking GDP, even though noboby goes by that anymore. Still, we've only had one quarter of negative economic growth, so by that very academic measurement -- nope, not a recession.
There are a million more things we could've thrown on that list but, hey, the show only lasts half an hour.