In other words, you’re not imagining it: This economic recovery has been a big disappointment relative to what the United States has usually experienced after a recession. Growth has been 9 percent below what was seen in past recoveries on average in its first three years. The CBO report tries to disentangle where that underperformance is coming from and its answer is deeply unsettling: The U.S. economy just isn’t as good at growing as it used to be.
The new CBO report claims that two-thirds of the underperformance of the economy over the past three years compared to a typical recovery is due to a slower rate of growth in potential GDP. Only one-third, in this analysis, is due to factors related to this recession.