Ten years ago this month, the U.S. unemployment rate was a disastrous 9.5%. That bleak time isn’t forgotten, but it is long gone. The U.S. pulled out of recession in June 2009 and hasn’t looked back. Barring catastrophe, the economy next month will set a new record for the longest continuous period of expansion. The current record was set amid the 1990s tech boom.
The expansion speaks to the resilience of the American economy — the relentless drive of American employers, entrepreneurs and workers to reinvent and succeed. The unemployment rate today is 3.6%, a 50-year low. The jobless rate for African-Americans and Latinos is at or near record lows. Stocks are at startling highs. Jobs are plentiful, which means so is opportunity.
We on the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board attribute all this to dynamism — the ingenuity of Americans and their economy. Consider the scale of the digital revolution, and how the most important personal tool most people possess — an internet-enabled cellphone — was introduced by Apple in 2007.
Think about how the nature of work has changed: The company leasing the most office space in downtown Chicago today is WeWork, a firm that offers shared work space. WeWork was founded in 2010.
Other accomplishments: Next year, the U.S. will export more energy products than it imports, reversing 70 years of history. GM, recovered from bankruptcy, expects a radically different future driven by electric vehicles.
A broader aspect of American ingenuity: Productivity, which measures American workers’ efficiency, is rising at the fastest clip since 2010. That means the economy “can grow at a faster pace,” economist Blerina Uraci of Barclay’s told the Wall Street Journal.
Economies, alas, don’t expand perpetually. The next recession is coming; the only question is when. For now, American businesses are getting big boosts from tax cuts and deregulation under President Donald Trump, but his hostility toward global trade puts growth at risk.
Ten years of expansion is a remarkable achievement for American employers and workers. Today’s Mission Possible: Maintain the private sector’s success — and keep the boom going.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE