Economic Facts: U.S. Economy Is Doing Quite Well

by: Mark J. Perry

Successive speakers at the Democratic National Convention poured scorn on President Bush's economic record. Yet Democrats cited no good evidence for their claims that the administration has produced a stagnant economy, widening disparities of income and wealth, high unemployment, and a heavy burden of government debt.

How does the performance of the U.S. economy really compare with other advanced economies over the eight years of George Bush's presidency? Data published by the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Bank, the International Comparison Program (a cooperative venture coordinated by the World Bank) and the U.S. Census Bureau allow a nonpartisan, factual assessment.

Economic Fact #1: The latest World Bank findings show that GDP per capita in the U.S. reached $41,813 (in purchasing power parity dollars) in 2005. This was a third higher than the United Kingdom's, 37% above Germany's and 38% more than Japan's (see chart above).

Economic Fact #2: U.S. output has expanded faster than in most advanced economies since 2000. The IMF reports that real U.S. GDP grew at an average annual rate of 2.2% over the period 2001-2008 (including its forecast for the current year). The U.S. economy is 19% larger than in 2008, and this U.S. expansion compares with 14% by France, 13% by Japan and just 8% by Italy and Germany over the same period.

Economic Fact #3: Average per-capita consumption of the U.S. population was second only to Luxembourg's, out of 146 countries covered in 2005. The U.S. average was $32,045. This was 27% above the levels in the UK ($25,155), 38% higher than Canada ($23,526), 30% above France ($23,027) and 47% above Germany ($21,742). China stood at $1,751.

Economic Fact #4: The U.S. unemployment rate averaged 4.7% from 2001-2007. This compares with a 5.2% average rate during President Clinton's term of office, and is well below the euro zone average of 8.3% since 2000.

Read more here of Keith Marsden's article in yesterday's WSJ.

The way the media reports it, the U.S. is a basket-case economy on the verge of plunging into another Great Depression. The factual evidence suggests otherwise.