Now they tell us.
A new report on the economy finds that productivity growth is at a 50-year low and that much of the positive talk about the nation's financial situation in the last election, much of it coming from the administration, was a lie.
The report from the U.S. Council on Competitiveness and Gallup finds that for many, the economy is in reverse despite claims that there is an active recovery ongoing, complete with new jobs.
Just one example: Wages peaked 17 years ago, in 1999.
"Conventional wisdom — as reported in many major newspapers and media — tells us the U.S. economy is 'recovering.' Well-meaning economists, academics and government officials use the term 'recovery' when discussing the economy, implying that growth is getting stronger. The study finds there is no recovery. Since 2007, U.S. GDP per capita growth has been 1," according to Gallup Chairman Jim Clifton.
"As this report makes clear," added Council President Deborah Wince-Smith, "productivity growth is in a serious multi-decade-long slump that is dangerously close to stalling completely."
The executive summary hits the worst of the news.
"The people are right. The economy is not working well. But the problems did not start with the Great Recession. For decades, the nation's income, measured as GDP, has barely grown overall; on a per capita basis, median household income peaked in 1999; the subjective general health status of Americans has declined, even adjusting for the aging population; disability rates are higher; learning has stagnated; fewer new businesses are being launched; more workers are involuntarily stuck in part-time jobs or out of the labor force entirely; and the income ranks of grown children are no less tied to the income ranks of their parents," said the report titled No Recovery — An Analysis of Long-Term U.S. Productivity Decline.
Key highlights from the 120-page report:
— The problem is severe. Since 1980, U.S. GDP per capita growth has been far below its long run average, and since 2007 it has been almost negligible.
— Deterioration in the quality-to-cost ratio for healthcare, housing and education is dragging down economic growth. After spiraling price increases, these sectors accounted for 36 percent of total national spending in 2015, up from 25 percent in 1980.
— The U.S. population's health has stagnated or even declined on several measures since 1980, especially for the working-age population.
— Housing costs have swallowed up a larger share of income without a corresponding increase in quality.
— Educational quality is weak and stagnant at all levels. The U.S. education system has failed to instill any measurable gains in the cognitive performance of children and young adults for decades, as U.S. students and adults struggle with poor rates of literacy and numeracy despite high spending growth.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com