The term recession is an economics term, though it used in a variety of sectors, not always with precision. Under the accepted definition, a recession is indicates a decline in economic activity in some geographic region, usually a nation though recessions rarely observe national boundaries. For an economic downturn to be considered a recession, it must last for some period of time. The formal definition of a recession entails a nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) declining, meaning negative economic growth, for two consecutive quarters.
GAO Glossary of Terms and Definition (September 2005)
Recession (Economics Term)
A pervasive, substantial decline in overall business activity that is of at least several months’ duration. The National Bureau of Economic Research identifies recessions on the basis of several indicators. As a rule of thumb, recessions are commonly identified by a decline in real GDP for at least two consecutive quarters.