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Current Economic Conditions and Selected Forecasts

Real gross domestic product (GDP) in the United States has been positive for 12 consecutive quarters, and the economy is considered to be in an "expansion" phase. As of the third quarter 2004, real or inflation-adjusted growth was nearly 10% above its previous high near the end of the 1991-2001 expansion. Real growth at 3.7% in the third quarter of 2004 was somewhat above the 3.3% rate achieved in the second quarter, but below the 4.5% rate achieved in the first quarter. All are down from the 7.4% rate achieved in 2003:3Q. Even during the 1990s expansion, the pace of growth was rarely over 7%. Yet the rebound in growth has not translated into higher payroll employment, and many call this a "jobless recovery." Payroll employment, despite recent gains, is only 1,146,000 above the level prevailing at the end of the recession (November 2001). The unemployment rate rose to a high of 6.3% in June 2003; it has since declined and now (October) stands at 5.5%. During the first 10 months of 2004 it has varied between 5.4% and 5.7%. These are well above rates in the second half of the 1990s. There are positive elements of the economic picture as well. A pick-up in output at the same time as employment is declining means that productivity is increasing. As in the 1990s, productivity growth is the key to raising the standard of living and is not necessarily associated with weak labor markets over time. The inflation rate, measured by the CPI, accelerated over the first half of 2004, rising at an annual rate of 4.9%. However, this was largely driven by rising energy prices. While most economists did not expect the sizzling 2003:3Q pace to be sustained, they anticipate that growth will settle down to around 4% over the next year, still above what is considered to be the long-run potential rate of growth. However, the unemployment rate is expected to show only a modest change as long as businesses are able to improve profitability through increased productivity.

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  • "CRS report for Congress"@en
  • "CRS report for Congress"
  • "Report for Congress"
  • "CRS issue brief for Congress"
  • "CRS issue brief for Congress"@en
  • "Congressional Research Service report for Congress"

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  • "U.S. real GDP growth has been positive for 18 consecutive quarters, and the economy is considered to be in an "expansion" phase. As of the second quarter 2006, real or inflation-adjusted growth was nearly 16% above its previous high near the end of the 1991-2001 expansion. Real GDP grew at an annualized quarterly rate of 2.5% in the second quarter of 2006, down from a 5.6% rate during the first quarter. This compares with annualized rates of 3.4%, 3.3%, 4.2%, and 1.8%, respectively, over the four quarters of 2005. The corresponding rates over the four quarters of 2004 were 3.9%, 4.0%, 3.1%, and 2.6%. The rebound in payroll employment has been modest compared with past expansions. During June 2006, it was about 4.2 million above the level prevailing at the end of the recession (November 2001), but only about 2.7 million above the peak of the last expansion (March 2001). The unemployment rate rose to a high of 6.3% in June 2003; it has since declined and now (June 2006) stands at an expansion low of 4.6%. The low achieved during the last expansion was 3.8%."
  • "Real gross domestic product (GDP) in the United States has been positive for 12 consecutive quarters, and the economy is considered to be in an "expansion" phase. As of the third quarter 2004, real or inflation-adjusted growth was nearly 10% above its previous high near the end of the 1991-2001 expansion. Real growth at 3.7% in the third quarter of 2004 was somewhat above the 3.3% rate achieved in the second quarter, but below the 4.5% rate achieved in the first quarter. All are down from the 7.4% rate achieved in 2003:3Q. Even during the 1990s expansion, the pace of growth was rarely over 7%. Yet the rebound in growth has not translated into higher payroll employment, and many call this a "jobless recovery." Payroll employment, despite recent gains, is only 1,146,000 above the level prevailing at the end of the recession (November 2001). The unemployment rate rose to a high of 6.3% in June 2003; it has since declined and now (October) stands at 5.5%. During the first 10 months of 2004 it has varied between 5.4% and 5.7%. These are well above rates in the second half of the 1990s. There are positive elements of the economic picture as well. A pick-up in output at the same time as employment is declining means that productivity is increasing. As in the 1990s, productivity growth is the key to raising the standard of living and is not necessarily associated with weak labor markets over time. The inflation rate, measured by the CPI, accelerated over the first half of 2004, rising at an annual rate of 4.9%. However, this was largely driven by rising energy prices. While most economists did not expect the sizzling 2003:3Q pace to be sustained, they anticipate that growth will settle down to around 4% over the next year, still above what is considered to be the long-run potential rate of growth. However, the unemployment rate is expected to show only a modest change as long as businesses are able to improve profitability through increased productivity."@en
  • ""U.S. real GDP growth has been positive for 17 consecutive quarters, and the economy is considered to be in an "expansion" phase. As of the fourth quarter 2005, real or inflation-adjusted growth was nearly 12% above its previous high near the end of the 1991-2001 expansion."--p. 2."

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  • "Current Economic Conditions and Selected Forecasts"@en
  • "Current economics conditions and selected forecasts"@en
  • "Current economic conditions"@en
  • "Current economic conditions and selected forecasts"
  • "Current economic conditions and selected forecasts"@en

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