Monday, February 2, 2015

Last quarter growth not impressive, and slow recovery continues

I was writing about this Friday, but other post took precedence. As noted in my links to other blogs, Dean Baker dealt with this in the context of the NYTimes coverage of the news. According to the BEA last release:
"Real gross domestic product -- the value of the production of goods and services in the United States, adjusted for price changes -- increased at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 5.0 percent."
In other words, after two quarters of faster growth at 4.6% and 5%, the last quarter has been less impressive, and the overall growth rate for 2014 was at 2.4%.  Note that even those two faster quarters have to be taken with a grain of salt, since the first quarter had negative growth, and the subsequent ones seem higher for that reason.

This should deflate the overly confident views on how fast the economy is recovering, and about the need to hike interest rates, since inflation is the danger now. Also, it should underscore how additional fiscal expansion is still needed. The labor market presents an even worse picture.

Most comments are on the unemployment rate, at 5.6%. But employment is a better measure often. Below the picture of total non-farm employment in the last three recoveries.
Note that the last recession was more profound than the previous too, as it is well known. Also, only last year the level of employment surpassed the previous peak, after six years of the beginning of the crisis. The recovery still looks pretty slow.

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