The economy’s “new normal” is decidedly new, but certainly not normal. Statistic after statistic attests to the simultaneous downshifting of America’s economy and our expectations with it.
Only by comparison can we put the current economy into true perspective. And only by doing so, can we hope to snap ourselves, and the economy, out of the current exercise of redefining mediocrity as excellence.
October’s job figures are just the latest example of the “dumbing down” of America’s economy. An unemployment rate of 7.9% and a sub-200,000 job creation figure would not long ago have called for worried hand-wringing, instead of the relieved hand-clapping it evoked.
Even more telling was the economy’s 2% real growth rate in the third quarter. In any other period, this would have been a snapshot of a poor economy. Now it exactly matches the landscape of the last three years.
Following 2009’s negative growth (-3.1%), the economy grew 2.4% in 2010 and 1.8% in 2011. According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, it is expected to grow 2.1% this year. That averages to just 2.1% — almost exactly the weak Q3 rate.