Perhaps you’ve gotten the impression from about-to-be-ex-President Obama’s various fake victory laps that the United States economy is recovering nicely now thanks to his spending, regulations and resolute leadership.
A new analysis by senior Gallup economists makes this contradictory, stark statement:
“There is no recovery. Since 2007, U.S. GDP per capita growth has been 1%. The Great Recession may be over, but America is dangerously running on empty.”
Put that in your swamp and drain it. The economy was in dire straits 2,879 days ago when Obama took office. And despite nearly $900 billion dollars in stimulus spending and almost as many promises and upbeat words, this has been the worst economic recovery since World War II, which we marked Wednesday on the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.
The United States has now had seven years to recover from the worst of the Great Recession. During that time, job growth has been steady, if unspectacular, and the unemployment rate has fallen from 10% to just under 5%…Stock prices, meanwhile, continue to reach and surpass new highs. Leading politicians and commentators reassure the public that everything is getting better.
Yet there is a pervasive sense that the economy is not working.
Bingo! There is a pervasive sense actually that a lot of things in the United States — way too many, in fact — are not working, starting with the national government in Washington.
Which explains Americans’ recent decision to ignore the incumbent president’s repeated recommendation for a successor and go with a politically-untested businessman who’s made billions.
Gallup’s analysis traces the nation’s stubborn economic pneumonia back decades. Per capita median income topped out and stalled in 1999. Even accounting for its aging population, Americans’ general health condition is declining.
“Learning has stagnated,” the report notes. “Fewer new businesses are being launched. More workers are involuntarily stuck in part-time jobs our out of the labor force entirely.”
While the tech and professional service sectors are world-class, others are not, such as education and healthcare are far from it. Among others they soak up vast and increasing resources. Total national spending on housing, education and healthcare has soared from 25% in 1980 to 36% last year with no appreciable gains or improvements.
You might not be stunned by Gallup’s diagnosis. It declares the “deterioration in large, vital sectors of the economy is far from inevitable, but rather an entirely reversible outcome that can be linked to specific policies, rules and regulations that have arisen and accumulated after decades of weak political leadership — often at the state and local levels — and lobbying by interest groups.”
The detailed data-laden report, also available in a pdf, makes for revealing, compelling and, yes, even grim reading.
In this holiday month of muted joys, anxious Americans are altering their impression of the upcoming President Trump. Even as they monitor the ongoing assembly of a fresh presidential administration under a businessman who’s promised a new age of national greatness with “winning, winning and more winning.”
Even the vanquished Hillary Clinton has wished Donald Trump well. One of Gallup’s most important conclusions does offer hope for a return to prosperity with the correct leadership:
“Political forces, not technical or scientific ones, are now the chief restraints on growth.”