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CNN Student News Learning Activity: Business Cycles

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  • Students will examine recent, local output of goods and services
  • Students will identify their community's position in the business cycle
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(CNN Student News) -- Students will examine recent, local output of goods and services to help identify their community's position in the business cycle.


Share this information with students: The economy typically goes through cycles, up and down, expanding and contracting, for many different reasons. Sometimes a contraction is referred to as a "recession." There's a lot of talk in the news lately about recession, but what does this word mean? Direct students to consult their textbooks or other resources to find definitions of recession, expansion and other terms relevant to business cycles. Have students share their findings.

Next, generate a class discussion about the economic characteristics of your community. What products or services is it known for? Is the community home to a large factory, retail store, corporate headquarters or other business interest? Are there federal, state or local government offices that employ local residents nearby?

Divide the class into small groups. Have each group conduct further research to get a feel for the trends in the local economy over the past two or more quarters. Groups will want to ask themselves: Have any businesses or offices moved, downsized or closed altogether? Are any expanding their operations and actively hiring more workers? Are there fewer or more small businesses in the community? How are these small businesses faring? What other questions should observers be asking to determine trends in local production of goods and services? Students should use local print and online media, government data and interviews with businesspeople (business owners, managers, and Chamber of Commerce officials) as well as government leaders to get their information. Have each group collate and analyze its information and prepare a five-minute presentation in response to the question: How would you describe our community's current position in the business cycle?

Related Resources

Extension: In class discussion, challenge students to consider the ways in which the state of the local economy affects them. For example, if local economic indicators point toward recession, what might that mean for teenagers seeking part-time work? If less production of goods and services means fewer full-time jobs for adults, how does that impact teenagers who rely on adults for spending money and work opportunities (like babysitting, pet-sitting, etc.)? How does local business growth impact teenagers' opportunities? What can teenagers do to cope with downturns or take advantage of expansions in the business cycle?

Correlated Standards

Economics America National Standards

Standard 18 : Macroeconomy-Income/Employment, Prices

Students will understand that: A nation's overall levels of income, employment, and prices are determined by the interaction of spending and production decisions made by all households, firms, government agencies, and others in the economy.

The Economics America National Standards ( are published by the National Council on Economic Education (


Business cycle, contraction, expansion, peak, trough, recession, depression, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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