A depression is any economic downturn where real GDP declines by more than 10 percent.
A recession is an economic downturn that is less severe. As a rule of thumb recessions are often declared after two consecutive quarters of negative growth (or contraction) of gross domestic product (GDP).
The last depression in the United States was from May 1937 to June 1938, where real GDP declined by 18.2 percent.
The Great Depression of the 1930s can be seen as two separate events: an incredibly severe depression lasting from August 1929 to March 1933 where real GDP declined by almost 33 percent, a period of recovery, then another less severe depression of 1937-38.
The United States hasn’t had anything even close to a depression in the post-war period.
The worst recession in the last 60 years was from November 1973 to March 1975, where real GDP fell by 4.9 percent.
In the USA real GDP decreased at an annual rate of 0.3 percent in the third quarter of 2008, (that is, from the second quarter to the third quarter), according to advance estimates. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 2.8 percent.
The third-quarter “preliminary” estimates, based on more comprehensive data, will be released on November 25, 2008.
In Australia real GDP is estimated to have had a 2.0% growth rate this quarter.