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Recession ended 4 years ago: How far have we come?

June 4, 2013: 9:24 AM ET

It's been four years since the Great Recession officially ended. Stocks have fully recovered, but the job market hasn't. Neither have home prices -- but then again, who wants to get back to that unhealthy boom?

Here are the cold, hard facts on where the economy stands, according to the most recent data:


The S&P 500 lost more than half its value between December 2007 and March 2009. Since then, stocks have not only recovered their recession losses, but have also stretched to new record highs.


The jobs recovery has not been as robust. Rather, it's been a slow, long haul. As the chart above shows, the U.S. economy lost nearly 8.8 million jobs between January 2008 and February 2010, but has since gained back only about 6.2 million jobs.

Meanwhile, the population has grown, and some jobseekers have given up. As of April, 58.6% of the adult U.S. population had a job.  The rate has barely budged in the last three years, and the last time it was that low was in 1983.


The average American is not yet earning the same income they did back in late 2007. Americans earned an average $32,700 a year as of April, about $184 less than in December 2007, after adjusting for inflation.


Part of what got us into this mess was the housing bubble. Many Americans were in over their heads, and found they were saddled with underwater mortgages after the bust. Since late 2008, households have been deleveraging. Now, the average American is $46,000 in debt -- the lowest level since 2006. About 71% of that debt is tied up in mortgages.

Part of this deleveraging process stems from foreclosures and defaults on loans. Housing debt is back to its lowest level since 2006, and credit card debt has been declining. Student debt is bucking this trend, rising recently.


The housing market started recovering last year but remains far below boom levels, when average home prices peaked at $254,000 in 2005. The Federal Reserve is hoping record low interest rates will spur more home-buying and boost the broader recovery.

Annalyn Kurtz
Annalyn Kurtz

Annalyn Kurtz is a senior writer at CNNMoney, where she covers America's jobs crisis, Federal Reserve policy and other economic news.

About This Author
Annalyn Censky
Annalyn Kurtz
Writer, CNNMoney

Annalyn Kurtz is a senior writer at CNNMoney, where she covers America's jobs crisis, Federal Reserve policy and other economic news. Before joining the site in 2010, she served as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Prague and interned at Fortune Small Business magazine. @annalynkurtz

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