NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Economy's Expansion Found Wanting

June 9, 1998

Some economists are not all that impressed with the economy's performance during the 1990s expansion. While the economy has been growing for 86 months, the rate of growth has actually been slower than during other expansions, the economists point out.

  • Real annual growth in gross domestic product (GDP) since 1991 has averaged only 2.8 percent -- seriously lagging the 4.9 percent annual pace during the 1961 to 1969 period.
  • Unemployment during the 1960s' expansion averaged 4.9 percent -- compared to 6.2 percent during the 1990s' boom.
  • During the 1982 to 1990 expansion, job growth averaged 2.2 percent a year -- versus just 1.6 percent during the 1990s.
  • In this decade, real per capita disposable income has grown only 9.5 percent -- a far cry from 33 percent growth during the 1961-1969 period.

The comparative weaknesses of the 1990s may be explained by looking at taxes. Economists point out the current decade has had the only major postwar expansion that was not accompanied by an across-the-board income tax cut.

Source: Anna Bray Duff, "Is This Economy That Special?" Investor's Business Daily, June 9, 1998.


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