U.S. Economy
August 16, 2017
Will the expansion continue?

Eight years after a deep recession ended, the U.S. economy is in good shape, economists say. Unemployment and inflation rates are low, and the stock market continues to reach new highs. With the economy enjoying slow but steady growth since 2009, the Federal Reserve is starting to raise interest rates, but not yet to a level that has dampened the expansion. However, economic gains remain uneven, with a disproportionate share of the gains going to high-income workers, investors and major metropolitan areas. Continuing gridlock in Washington, despite Republican control of the White House and Congress, has some economists worried that promised tax cuts and other stimuli will not occur. There are also risks this fall of a government shutdown and an unprecedented default on U.S. debt. Nonetheless, with the fundamentals of the economy in good shape, most predict that any recession is at least a year off.

A sign announces the closing of the 60-year-old Sears store in Chicago’s Galewood neighborhood on July 7, 2017. (Getty Images/Scott Olson)   A sign announces the closing of the 60-year-old Sears store in Chicago’s Galewood neighborhood on July 7, 2017. Many other retail outlets also are struggling or closing, creating vacancies in malls and other shopping areas. (Getty Images/Scott Olson)

For economists, “steady as it goes” might best summarize the economy’s performance over the past eight years.

With unemployment low, the stock market up and inflation modest, the Congressional Budget Office projects the economy will grow by 2.2 percent in 2017 and 2 percent in 2018. 1 “The general consensus of economists is that at this point, we are well into a long, although not great, expansion after a really deep and fairly protracted recession,” says Tara Sinclair, an economist at George Washington University.

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