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Over the last 200 years, going back to 1809, the chart above shows that the growth in real GDP per capita in the U.S. has been amazingly constant at an average of 2% year, with fluctuations around that long-term secular trend.

The National Bureau of Economic Research has documented 33 recessions since 1857, including a few major ones that are easily identifiable in the chart above: a) three severe contractions in the 1865-1880 period following the Civil War (with the third one lasting more than five years) and accompanied by a 20-year period of below-average economic growth, and b) the Great Depression with two official recessions (August 1929 to August 1933; and May 1937 to June 1938) and a ten-year period of below trend growth in output.

Despite the vagaries of the business cycle, unexpected periods of recessions, a civil war, two world wars, a Great Depression, etc., there's one thing we can always count on in the long-run: 2% real growth in per-capita GDP, meaning that that output per person in the U.S. doubles every 35 years, or about twice during the average person's lifetime. There's nothing happening right now that will change that long-term trend, and for that we can be thankful.

Disclosure: None

Source: 2% Real Per-Capita GDP Growth: A Long-Term Trend We Can Count On