According to MarketWatch.com, the U.S. economy returned closer to normalcy in 2015 than any time since the Great Recession ended in mid-2009. But “normal” it is not. Consumer spending, while much improved, is still running a bit below precession levels. Ditto for consumer confidence.
Businesses, for their part, are investing at a slower clip, devoting more free cash to stock buybacks and dividend payments — or looking to move headquarters overseas where tax rates are lower. So-called corporate inversions have become all the rage lately. Meanwhile, governments at all levels have had to rein in spending.
The result: It took six years for the unemployment rate to return close to where it was in 2006 — the year before the recession struck. Even now, the number of Americans who can’t find a full-time job, 15.7 million, remains high by historical standards so far into a recovery. And millions of able-bodied people under the age of 65 have stopped looking for work to reduce the so-called labor participation rate to a level last seen during the presidency of Jimmy Carter.
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