After seven years of anemic economic growth, Americans are facing limited job opportunities, stagnant wages, a diminishing middle class and dismal economic prospects for our youth. A recent Pew Research study found young adults more likely to be living in their parents' homes than at any time since 1940 — Hillary Clinton refers to them as Bernie Sanders basement dwellers.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, nearly one in six young men is either jobless or incarcerated, up from about one in 10 in 1980, when the economy was in recession. Gross Domestic Product should be averaging an annual growth rate of 3 percent to 4 percent, particularly coming out of a deep recession. It hasn't happened.
In 2010, the White House projected that GDP growth would "accelerate in 2011 to 3.8 percent" and "exceed 4 percent per year in 2012-2014." However, GDP has averaged about 2 percent since the recession ended, producing the worst economic recovery since World War II.
So far this year, the situation is even worse, with GDP averaging about 1 percent. The Federal Reserve is projecting GDP growth going forward at a mere 2 percent annually. In fact, the economy is so weak that the Fed is afraid to raise interest rates even one quarter of one percent (0.25 percent). Despite all the hyperbole about the supposed economic recovery, this reticence speaks volumes as to the actual state of the economy.
Working and middle class parents understand these numbers all too well. After seven years of tepid recovery, a recent poll from YouGov found that two out of three Americans believe either that the economy has yet to recover (55 percent) or will never recover (12 percent). In a recent Gallup poll Americans said the economy was the single most important issue the next president should address. They were right — and it's long past time in this electoral cycle to have this national conversation.
Whoever wins this election will be left with the Obama-Clinton legacy of anemic economic growth. It has widened the gap between the upper class and the working class, diminished the middle class, and destroyed the economic opportunities for which our nation has been known for generations. The obvious way to reverse this trend would be to encourage the private sector growth necessary to revive the economy and create good paying jobs.