10 Signs a Double-Dip Recession Is Around the Corner

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The U.S. could very well be on the brink of its second recession in three years.

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What's more depressing:

a) That GDP grew 0.4% in the first quarter of 2011

b) That GDP grew 0.8 percent in the first half of 2011

c) That the debt ceiling deal will likely make things worse

d) All of the above

We select (d). The U.S. could very well be on the brink of its second recession in three years. Unemployment refuses to stay below 9 percent, growth is weak, and housing continues to drag down the economy. Here are the ten clearest signs that we could be on the precipice of a double dip.

It is any wonder that many Americans believe that the economic downturn is still in progress? Home prices have fallen to 2002 levels. Values have dropped nearly 50% in parts of Florida, California, Nevada, and Arizona. Property values are also down that much in parts of troubled big cities like Detroit. Estimates are that as many as 11 million homes have underwater mortgages. Banks have inventories of as many as 2 million foreclosed homes which have not even been released to the market. Home prices could fall another 10% if current trends persist.

Perhaps the most powerful argument that the recession never ended or that a new one has begun is the persistence of unemployment. Fourteen million people are out of work. A third of those have been jobless for more than a year. May employment data showed the jobless rate rose unexpectedly and that the economy added only 58,000 jobs. Experts believe that the unemployment rate will not improve significantly until the monthly gain in jobs is consistently 300,000 jobs or more. And, at that rate the gains would have to go one for more than two years to bring the economy back to what is traditionally considered a reasonable unemployment figure.

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Douglas A. McIntyre and Michael B. Sauter are editors of 24/7 Wall St., a Delaware-based financial news and opinion operation that produces content for sites including MarketWatch, DailyFinance, Yahoo! Finance, and TheStreet.com.

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