Much has been written in recent years along the lines of “if this is an expansion, why does it feel like we’re still in a recession?” Young people and low-wage workers in particular have felt this way.
One answer is that the expansion in the years since the recent recession has been very weak, and nothing like the expansions that have followed many other recessions.
For example, President Ronald Reagan took office in 1981 in the midst of raging inflation and a deep recession. Similarly, President Barack Obama took office in 2009 in the midst of the recent global financial crisis.
President Reagan’s first 7 years in office averaged +7.9% GDP growth, while President Obama’s first 7 years in office have averaged less than half as much, at +2.9%.
The worst year of GDP growth in Pres. Reagan’s first 7 years, at +4.2%, was greater than the best year of growth under Pres. Obama’s first 7 years, which was +4.1%. The recovery during President Obama’s tenure has been so comparatively anemic that the “why does it feel like we’re still in a recession” question becomes much more understandable.