It seems most everyone now accepts that the United States economy is in a recession that began in December of 2007.
But the definition of recession used to be two successive quarters of falling GDP (gross domestic product). By that definition the recession began in the third quarter of 2008.
The 4th quarter of 2007 did have a negative GDP as is seen in the graph I found on the Bureau of Economic Analysis web site.
Another interesting site is the U S Department of Labor - Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The unemployment rate is 7.6% as of February 9, 2009. That's about 11.6 million unemployed persons. In December, 2007 there were about 8 million persons unemployed so some 3.6 million jobs have been lost since then. Half of those people were laid off in the last 3 months.
It is hoped that the stimulus plan will provide about 4 million jobs. If it does then that would make up for the 3.6 million lost since December, 2007.
The problem as I see it is that there are always unintended and unexpected consequences. If we knew what they were beforehand they would not be unintended.
Some people will benefit from these unintended consequences but I suspect there will be more losers.