Date Published:Spring 2017
U.S. output expanded only slowly after the recession trough in 2009 even though
the unemployment rate has essentially returned to a pre-crisis, normal level. We use a growthaccounting decomposition to explore explanations for the output shortfall, giving full treatment to cyclical effects that, given the depth of the recession, should have implied unusually fast growth. We find that the growth shortfall has almost entirely reflected two factors: the slow growth of total factor productivity and the decline in labor force participation. Both factors reflect powerful adverse forces largely unrelated to the financial crisis and recession. These forces were in play before the recession.