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The Economy in Perspective

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Extreme economics … Like a skier barreling down a triple-black-diamond run, the U.S. economy is racing into the new year. The Commerce Department reported that real growth reached 4.3 percent last quarter, substantially exceeding analysts’ expectations. The fourth-quarter pace brought the 1997 growth rate to nearly 4 percent, itself a considerably higher figure than the economy’s 20-year average of 2.6 percent. On the heels of the Commerce Department’s announcement came word from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that nonfarm establishments added 358,000 net new jobs to the economy in January, a number that overshot analysts’ earlier projections by roughly 25 percent. The nation’s unemployment rate remained steady at 4.7 percent, and the employment- to-population ratio hit a record peak of 64.2 percent. The January labor market data depict an economy performing with the same vigor it displayed last quarter.

Suggested citation: “The Economy in Perspective,” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Economic Trends, no. 98-02, pp. 01, 02.01.1998.

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