The U.S. economy acquired an exclusive label Friday: Recession-free for eight full years. Yet the third-longest economic winning streak in American history still doesn’t get much love.
No wonder: Despite its longevity, this expansion has delivered subpar gains in its pace of growth, full-time hiring and pay increases since it emerged from the wreckage of the Great Recession in June 2009. It’s the weakest economic recovery since World War II.
And the gap between the richest among us and everyone else has widened.
Still, the economy is hardly the disaster that President Donald Trump insists he inherited. Employers have been hiring steadily, month after month, since 2010. A majority of Americans now enjoy unusual job security.
The government estimated Friday that the economy grew at a 2.6 percent annual rate from April through June. It wasn’t sizzling. But just the fact that the economy has sustained its growth since mid-2009 represents a major statistical milestone.
Here are five things to know about the expansion as it trudges into Year 9:
IT’S GOT STAYING POWER
The National Bureau of Economic Research has been measuring U.S. recessions and expansions since the 1850s. Over that time — from President Franklin Pierce’s administration to Trump’s — only two expansions have matched the lifespan of the one that officially began in June 2009 and has endured for 96 months:
A 106-month expansion that ran from February 1961 to December 1969, when President Lyndon Johnson stoked growth with spending on domestic programs and the Vietnam war.
And a 120-month streak that began in March 1991 and ended in March 2001, after the dotcom bubble burst.
What’s more, the job market has enjoyed a remarkable run: Employers have added jobs for 81 straight months — easily the longest streak on record. And the number of Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits has stayed below 300,000 for 125 straight weeks. That’s the longest such streak since…