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posted on 13 June 2016

A "New Normal"? The Prospects For Long-term Growth In The United States

from the Richmond Fed

-- this post authored by Aaron Steelman and John A. Weinberg

Following the recession of 2007 - 09, annual U.S. economic growth rates have been below long-term trends. While there are plausible arguments that this sluggishness may continue for some time, there is good reason to think more rapid growth rates will return.

The United States, since the end of World War II, has generally been seen around the world as an economic powerhouse. Indeed, that period has witnessed large gains in most Americans' quality of life, as life spans have grown sharply, access to education has expanded markedly, and people regularly enjoy consumer items that would have once been considered luxuries or were simply unimagined when the hostilities in Europe and Asia ended and Americans got back to peacetime life. From 1947 through 2007, the economy grew at roughly 3.4 percent annually. While growth is often expressed in terms of total economic output, a growing population will bring with it some amount of overall growth.

To measure improvement in average standards of living, growth of GDP per capita is the standard yardstick. The post-war average of 3.4 percent overall growth translated to an average growth rate per capita of about 2.1 percent. During that period, the United States experienced a few significant recessions and several milder downturns. Such fluctuations can be acutely felt by many people when they occur, but against the longer-run performance, they look relatively insignificant.

[click on image below to continue reading]

Source: media/ richmondfedorg/ publications/ research/ annual_report/ 2015/pdf/article.pdf

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