The United States faces daunting economic challenges. Not only are 14 million people currently unemployed, but according to recent estimates from the International Monetary Fund, we’re likely to see economic growth below 3 percent through 2016.
At a panel at the Clinton Global Initiative jobs summit on Wednesday, Laura Tyson, the former chair of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers put it even more bleakly, saying that the United States might not see employment return to pre-recession levels until 2023.
Economists, of course, always tend to be gloomy; it’s part of their charm (see Roubini, Nouriel ). But Tyson’s point is a good one and illustrates just how dire our current situation is. Yet as she astutely points out, it’s not merely because of the recession.
Indeed, the eight years preceding it were far from boom times. “Job growth in the 2000s was half of what it had been in the previous two decades,” she said.
In his cover story for Newsweek, President Clinton echoed this point: “In the seven years and eight months that preceded the meltdown, our economy produced a meager 4 million new jobs, far too few to cope with millions coming into the workforce.”
Worse still, most of the jobs were related to housing, finance, and consumer spending—all of which were crushed by the downturn.