As 2013 fades into 2014, it seems like a good time to do a quick performance check on the United States. CFR’s Renewing America initiative is premised on the understanding that the United States' ability to influence world events rests on a robust, competitive economy. While any given year is at best a snapshot in a very long game, some of the numbers from this year are nonetheless quite striking (and more on the positive side than not). And so, with apologies to Clint Eastwood, my snap assessment.
Economic growth – The U.S. economy grew at a 4.1 percent annualized rate in the third quarter of 2013, the highest rate since 2011.
Unemployment rate – Fell to 7.0 percent, down from 7.9 percent in January, 2013.
U.S. trade deficit – Down 10.6 percent from the same period in 2012, largely due to strong export growth.
U.S. oil production – Predicted to be up 800,000 barrels/day through 2016, to 9.5 million barrels/day, just shy of the 1970 record.
U.S. budget deficit – Down 37 percent in FY2013 to $680 billion, the first time since 2008 that the deficit has fallen below $1 trillion.
Rising income inequality – From 2009-2012, incomes for the top one percent of income earners rose 31.4%, while those for the remaining 99 per cent grew only 0.4%. Income inequality is the greatest since 1928.
State, local and federal government spending on infrastructure – Down by more than $60 billion annually since 2010.
International Test Scores – In the latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, American students ranked 26th among OECD nations in math, 17th in reading and 24th in science. But test scores may not be the best measures of achievement.
Labor force participation rate – At 63 percent, it has continued to fall throughout the year, and remains below the pre-recession level of 66 percent.
The U.S. government shutdown – Estimated to have cost the United States economy $24 billion, shaving 0.6 percent off third quarter economic growth.