Recessions By Decade: Record on the Horizon

The current expansion, which started in June 2009, is now the longest in recorded history since the 1850s. The current expansion became the second longest in May 2018 and, in July 2019, it became number one. But most of all, if the current expansion endures to January 2020, then it will mark the first calendar decade (the 2010s) without a recession.

Recessions are relatively common and frequent. Before 1930, recessions occurred equally 1 to 4 times per decade. After 1930, recessions occur once per decade about a third of the time and twice per decade about two-thirds of the time. If history is a guide, we should expect 1 to 2 recessions each decade.

The current slow, long expansion has come at great cost. Had this expansion simply grown at the historically-average rate for expansions, the economy, standards of living, and average worker incomes would be more than 20% higher than they are today.

Even if such growth over the past decade had been punctuated with a typical recession, the economy and standards of living would be more than 10% higher. No wonder we have a current environment of economic frustration.