A recession is defined as a sustained period of negative economic growth.
Okay, so what does that mean exactly? Well, there are several "rules of thumb" for identifying a recession, depending on who you talk to.
Two Down Quarters of the GDP: This is largely considered the standard definition of a recession. Putting it simply, if two fiscal quarters go by with the GDP losing value, that's a recession. This standard was put forth by financial statistician Julius Shiskin in an article he published in the New York Times, and is the one most often practiced by economists.
1.5% Unemployment Rise: While the two down quarters rule is the one most commonly practiced, the 1.5% rule is probably a little more relevant to anyone looking to find a job during a recession. With this standard, a recession is defined as a period wherein the unemployment rate rises by one point five percent or more