Lately there has been a lot of banter about the state of the US economy. Many (including Warren Buffett) have argued that for all intents and purposes, we're in a recession. Officially, however, a recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative, real (i.e. inflation adjusted) GDP growth. When you consider the fact that GDP is not adjusted for population growth, you realize this definition is pretty meaningless.
What is it we're trying to measure when it comes to GDP? Currently, the government and media seem most interested in how much the country as a whole produces (see some arguments here about why we're not in a recession). I would argue that what we should be interested in is how the people within that country are doing, to truly understand what is occurring in a given economy.
In the US, population growth is expected to be 1.2% in 2008. This suggests that if GDP growth for the country as a whole is below this, the standard of living of the average American will be lower this year. Real US GDP for the last two quarters has been (annualized) .6% and .9%. This IS a recession for all intents and purposes. The GDP for the entire country as a whole is useless without thinking about it and applying it to the population within that country.