The Great Recession is long over. Economists say it ended in June, 2009, when the U.S. economy began growing again after the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent downturn.
But to the more than 14 million Americans still out of work, this summer scarcely feels like good times. That's because economic growth has been so slow for the last two years. Instead of bouncing back quickly, the economy has been inching up. In the first quarter of this year, it grew just 1.9 percent.
In this country, "the economy has been disappointing on the low side consistently for several months now," says Princeton economist Alan Blinder, a former Federal Reserve member. "That makes me and other people worry that maybe this slow growth will linger longer than we now think."
In fact, managers at the giant bond fund PIMCO have helped popularize the term "the new normal" to describe this period of slow growth. If the economy is settling into such a pattern, that could mean Americans would have to adjust to a more-or-less permanent period of high unemployment, negligible wage growth and slumping living standards.
NPR reporters Jim Zarroli, John Ydstie and Wendy Kaufman take a look at what it would mean if indeed slow growth were to become the "new normal," and how the country might see higher growth through innovation.
— Marilyn Geewax