The country isn't in a recession as it is commonly, if somewhat arguably, defined: two consecutive quarters in which the economy has stropped growing. In the first quarter of 2008, the economy did grow, but only just; it inched upward by an anemic .9 percent. Economists expect growth in the second quarter to come in at around 1 percent or more, moving higher in the second half. But such definitions prove meaningless to people who have lost their jobs or are struggling to make ends meet amidst $4-a-gallon gasoline, higher food bills and a troubled economy.
In 1980, when Ronald Reagan said the country was in a depression, he drew ridicule from Jimmy Carter's advisers, who said he didn't understand the definition of that term. At a Labor Day campaign kickoff rally of immigrants near the Statue of Liberty, Reagan said, "Well, if it's a definition he wants, I'll give him one. A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose yours. Recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his."
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