U.S. Economic Recovery Looks Good Compared With Sluggish Europe, Asia : The Two-Way The recovery might feel slow to many U.S. workers, but the United States is in far better shape than other developed countries, according to an organization that tracks global growth.
NPR logo U.S. Economic Recovery Looks Good Compared With Sluggish Europe, Asia

U.S. Economic Recovery Looks Good Compared With Sluggish Europe, Asia

A new report says the U.S. economy is rebounding from the Great Recession better than other countries, but more investment in infrastructure such as roads and bridges would help it do even better. David Zalubowski/AP hide caption

toggle caption
David Zalubowski/AP

A new report says the U.S. economy is rebounding from the Great Recession better than other countries, but more investment in infrastructure such as roads and bridges would help it do even better.

David Zalubowski/AP

Sure, the U.S. economy has problems: income inequality, aging infrastructure and slowing entrepreneurship.

But cheer up, Americans. The latest figures on developed economies show the United States is in far better shape than other countries.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an international group that tracks global growth, said Thursday that the United States is making one of the strongest comebacks in the developed world.

The Great Recession began in late 2007 came to an official end in June 2009. In the seven years since then, "the U.S. economy has rebounded through robust monetary policy support and the well-timed expansion of fiscal policy," the OECD said.

"Output has surpassed its pre-crisis peak by 10 percent, robust private-sector employment gains have sharply reduced unemployment, and fiscal sustainability has been largely restored," the report found.

Chart of GDP growth
Gabriela Mejias/NPR/Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Do you find that hard to believe?

If so, that might be because many Americans are so accustomed to having a powerful economy; they have been dismayed by a rebound that hasn't been stronger.

But the OECD says that compared with our chief competitors, the United States is leading the pack — by miles. From the first quarter of 2008 until the same period this year, U.S. gross domestic product expanded by 10.85 percent. That compares with growth of just 0.64 percent in the Euro area and 0.06 percent in Japan.

"In so many ways, the U.S. economy is a role model for other OECD countries, but by America's own high standards the recovery has been mild and risks losing momentum," OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said.

He spoke about the study with Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, at an event hosted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a think tank in Washington.

The upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy included these points: the unemployment rate of 4.7 percent is back to pre-recession levels; the gender wage gap is at a record low; inflation is down; the financial sector is more stable; and more people have health care insurance.

But the study also concluded many problems have worsened: income inequality has widened; gains in educational performance have slowed; entrepreneurship is down; productivity is declining; and public infrastructure spending is inadequate.

At the PIIE event, Furman agreed that the country needs "substantial investments" in roads, bridges and energy infrastructure. "We should do more," he said.