By Jeannine Aversa, AP Economics Writer WASHINGTON The longest recession since World War II ended in June 2009, according to the group that determines dates for the beginning and end of U.S. business cycles. The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a panel of academic economists based in Cambridge, Mass., says the recession lasted 18 months. It started in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. Previously, the longest postwar downturns were those in 1973-1975 and in 1981-1982. Both of those lasted 16 months. The committee's determination is of interest to economic historians and political leaders. In President George W. Bush's eight years in office, the United States fell into two recessions. The first started in March 2001 and ended that November. The second one started in December 2007. NBER's decision means little to ordinary Americans now struggling through a sluggish economic recovery and a weak jobs market. Unemployment is 9.6% and has been stuck at high levels since the recession ended. Recession ended in June 2009, economic panel says - USATODAY.com All those unemployed people should be THRILLED with this news.