WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy entered a recession in February, a group of economists declared Monday, ending more than a decade of steady if slow growth.

The economists said employment peaked in February and fell sharply afterward, marking the beginning of the downturn.

A committee within the National Bureau of Economic Research, a trade group, determines when recessions begin and end.

It defines a recession as “a decline in economic activity that lasts more than a few months.”

The committee acknowledged, however, that in this case the depth of the economic downturn so far also played a role in its decision.

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