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KNOXVILLE – The National Bureau of Economic Research has announced that the United States economy officially went into a recession, starting in March of this year.

A University of Tennessee economist says he’s surprised that the recession began that long ago.

“Clearly the national and state economies were in the throes of a manufacturing-sector recession,” said Dr. Matt Murray. “The manufacturing sector had been in decline going back to October 2000, but most other economic indicators were showing growth.”

Murray says growth in non-manufacturing jobs remained relatively strong and industrial production was at acceptable levels in March, although hindsight shows that the overall economy was weakening at that point.

The federal government has a role to play in getting the economy out of recession, Murray says.

“In terms of monetary policy, I think the federal government should ratchet-up the spending side of the federal budget,” Murray said. “I’m not as impressed with the use of tax cuts as a means of fostering short-term economic growth.”