Economists: Slow Growth Is 'New Normal' for US

But few of them expect a recession next year
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 5, 2016 12:07 AM CST
Economists: Slow Growth Is 'New Normal' for US
Workers exchange spools of thread as a robot picks up thread made from recycled plastic bottles at Unifi textile company in Yadkinville, NC.   (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Americans should get used to a "new normal" of slow economic growth, business economists say. The median estimate from economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics calls for the American economy to grow 2.2% in 2017, up from a forecast 1.6% this year and unchanged from the previous survey in September, the AP reports. The improved number is still lackluster by historical standards. US economic growth averaged 3.1% a year from 1948 to 2015, according to the Congressional Research Service. But the business economists say Americans need to get used to slow growth: 80% of those surveyed believe the potential growth rate of the American economy will remain at 2.5% or lower over the next five years.

The economy has been hobbled by an aging work force and weak gains in productivity. Still, the economists see the risk of a recession as remote; 90% expect the current economic expansion to continue until at least 2018. Those surveyed also predict the unemployment rate, which fell to a nine-year low 4.6% of last month, will average 4.7% in 2017. Two-fifths of the economists say increased spending on roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects would be the best way to boost economic growth over the next four years; 36% chose tax reform, which usually includes reducing the high official US corporate tax rate in exchange for closing tax loopholes. Donald Trump has said both infrastructure spending and tax reform will be priorities in his administration. The economists also expect a Fed rate hike next week. (More US economy stories.)

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