For the first time ever, the U.S. economy started and ended an entire decade without entering a recession. It's been the longest expansion in the country's history, taking place during a decade marked by the memory of the Great Recession and unprecedented access to information about the state of the economy. But overall economic growth during this decade has been slower compared to previous booms.
There's a saying among economists that "expansions don't die of old age."
In the case of the American economy over the past decade, it rings true.
As of December, the U.S. economy has expanded for a record 126 straight months, the longest time period in the country's history according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Put another way, the U.S. has avoided a recession for an entire calendar decade for the first time ever.
"It is unusual that this has been such a persistent recovery," Michelle Meyer, chief U.S. economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told CNBC.
Economists cite a few reasons for why the expansion has lasted for so long. For one, the U.S. was coming from a low point at the end of the last decade. Much of the expansion over the past ten years has been spent recovering from the Great Recession.
"It's almost hard to imagine how awful that time was," said David Wilcox, former director of the Division of Research and Statistics at the Federal Reserve Board and a current senior fellow at the Peterson Institute.
Job growth, for example, has recovered more slowly than in previous economic booms, in part because unemployment was so high during the financial crisis. As some economists have said, the deeper the hole, the longer it takes to climb out.
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