The United States has now gone a record 10 straight years without 3 percent growth in real Gross Domestic Product, according to data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The BEA has calculated GDP for each year going back to 1929 and it has calculated the inflation-adjusted annual change in GDP (in constant 2009 dollars) from 1930 forward.
In the 85 years for which BEA has calculated the annual change in real GDP there is only one ten-year stretch—2006 through 2015—when the annual growth in real GDP never hit 3 percent. During the last ten years, real annual growth in GDP peaked in 2006 at 2.7 percent. It has never been that high again, according to the BEA.
The last recession ended in June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. In the six full calendar years since then (2010-2015), real annual GDP growth has never exceeded the 2.5 percent it hit in 2010.
“The average growth rate for economic recoveries since the 1960s is 3.9 percent ranking the Obama recovery, with an average GDP growth rate of just 2.1 percent, among the slowest in history,” said Sen. Dan Coats (R.-Ind,), who chairs the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress.
Before this period, the longest stretch of years when real GDP did not grow by at least 3.0 percent, as calculatd by the BEA, was the four-year stretch from 1930 to 1933—during the Great Depression.
In addition to that four-stretch from 1930-1933, there have also been four three-year stretches where the real annual growth in GDP did not go as high as 3.0 percent. Those periods were 1945-1947 (in the immediate aftermath of World War II); 1956-1958; 1980-1982; and 2001-2003.
The longest consecutive stretch of years in which the United State saw real GDP grow by 3.0 percent or better was the seven year period from 1983-1989, during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
The second longest stretch of years in which the U.S. saw real GDP grow by 3.0 percent or better was the six-year period from 1939 through 1944. (World War II started in Europe in 1939 and the U.S. entered the war in December 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.)
In the last two years, annual growth in real GDP hit a plateau of 2.4 percent.
“Real GDP increase by 2.4 percent in 2015 (that is, from the 2014 annual level to the 2015 annual level), the same rate as in 2014,” the BEA said in the press release it put out today when it published its revised estimate for GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2015.
In that quarter, according to today’s revised estimate, GDP increased at an annual rate of 1.0 percent.
In the Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers that President Obama sent to Congress this week, the administration noted that it is projecting real GDP to grow by only 2.7 percent this year and by less than that in the following two years.
“Real GDP is projected to grow 2.7, 2.5, and 2.4 percent during the four quarters of 2016, 2017, and 2018, respectively,” said the report.
Next week, the Joint Economic Committee will be holding a hearing on the president's economic report.
“Whether it is burdensome regulations, a broken tax code or a ballooning national debt, the Obama Administration’s policies are a dead weight on the economy,” said Sen. Coats. “Under this president, we continue to see stubbornly low workforce participation and historically high long-term unemployment rates.
“In order to boost GDP, we need to overhaul our tax code and strip away unnecessary government regulations to give employers the confidence they need grow their businesses and create new jobs. Congress can take action to help grow our economy, but we need a willing partner in the White House,” said Coats.
“On Wednesday,” said Coats, “I am chairing a JEC hearing on the President’s economic assessment, and we’ll hear from the Chairman of his Council of Economic Advisors, Jason Furman, on ways we can work together to improve economic growth.”