The latest figures on US economic growth and employment reveal a strong and expanding economy. According to the Labor Department, 178,000 new, non farm jobs were created in November and the unemployment rate decreased to 4.6 percent, the lowest level in 9 years. Wage growth was modest, at 2.5 percent, slightly above the 1.6 percent rate of inflation. In all, since the recovery from the Great Recession started in 2010, over 15 million jobs have been created. Also, in this year’s third quarter, economic growth increased at an annual rate of 2.9 percent, the fastest pace in the last two years.
To appreciate better how exceptional is this fact, it should be recalled that in the last 65 years only three Presidents have been inaugurated with less than 4 percent unemployment. President D. Eisenhower in 1952, with 3.0 percent; President R. Nixon in 1968, with 3.4 percent; and President G.W. Bush in 2000, with 3.9 percent. All the others, since President J.F. Kennedy, entered the White House with unemployment rates above 5 percent and for Presidents J. Carter, R. Reagan and B. Clinton it was above 7 percent. .
True, the present economic expansion has been slow and weak, with an average annual growth rate of 2.1 percent, the weakest since 1949. Also, the recovery from the Great Recession has been uneven, with some sectors lagging behind, such as manufacturing. Additionally, since the 90s, some factors are restraining potential growth, such as the aging population and a stagnant productivity.
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