The U.S. economy shot forward at an upwardly revised 5.3 percent annual rate in the first quarter, the fastest growth in 2-1/2 years, as companies built up inventories and exports strengthened, a Commerce Department report on Thursday showed.
First-quarter growth in gross domestic product was more than triple the 1.7 percent annual rate recorded in last year’s fourth quarter, though still slightly below Wall Street economists’ forecasts for a 5.7 percent pace.
Prices remained in check, with the core personal consumption expenditures price index that the Federal Reserve favors rising at a 2 percent rate compared with 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter.
David Leonhardt, writing in the New York Times, expands on this:
More to the point, some other improvements have accelerated recently. In just the last 15 years, the murder rate has been cut almost in half. Many big cities are far more vibrant places than they used to be. About 33 percent of young adults get a bachelor’s degree these days, up from 25 percent in the early 1990′s. The gap between men’s and women’s pay reached its lowest ever last year. The divorce rate has stopped rising.
Many luxuries of earlier generations — owning a three-bedroom house, flying across the country, calling relatives who live overseas — are staples of middle-class life. If all this doesn’t add up to a rise in living standards, I’m not sure what the phrase means.
He then explains that instead of talking negative about the economy, Democrats should follow the example of Barack Obama, who focuses more on the insecurity that has accompanied recent prosperity. When newspapers go from harping on gas prices and wages to coaching the Democrats to use the booming economy to their advantage, hey — that’s progress!