Over the past 10 economic recoveries in the U.S., GDP got back to its pre-downturn levels within 12 months; that isn't going to happen this time around, economists said. Even if all of the most optimistic growth projections turn about to be correct, the U.S. will take longer to return to pre-recession levels than at any time since the end of World War II. Bruce Kasman, chief economist for JPMorgan Chase, said the problem is the sheer depth to which the economy sank at its worst.

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