Under a White House projection, the U.S. economy is expected to
expand by 3.1 percent this year, faster than last year's 1.7
percent. Growth would pick up to 3.4 percent in 2015, the White
The administration also forecast that unemployment would ease to an
average of 6.9 percent in 2014. The jobless rate, which reached a
high of 10 percent in 2009, fell to a five-year low of 6.6 percent
Many economists say that the unemployment rate has dropped in part
because many people have stopped looking for work. The U.S. labor
force participation rate has fallen from over 66 percent before the
start of the recession to 63 percent.
The administration's 2014 growth projection was more optimistic than
the 2.9 percent forecast of "Blue Chip" forecasters, and the 2.7
percent projection of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
In contrast, the White House jobless rate forecast for the current
year was more pessimistic than the 6.6 percent Blue Chip view and
the 6.8 percent CBO projection.
Almost five years after the end of the recession, the economy is
still growing modestly and the unemployment rate, while declining,
has remained persistently high. The administration, mindful that
President Barack Obama's popularity has slipped in opinion polls and
worried that Democrats could lose ground to Republicans in November
elections, has emphasized an agenda focused on jobs and growth.
The White House pointed to the declining budget deficit and the
improved housing market, as among factors pointing to the likelihood
of stronger growth. White House Council of Economic Advisers
Chairman Jason Furman said ramped up U.S. energy production, slowing
health care costs, and advances in technology would also drive
stronger economic performance.
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But Obama, who has vowed to narrow the gap between the rich and
poor, wants Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour
from $7.25 and spend more to help speed the economy. Last week he
proposed a budget for fiscal 2015 that would spend $56 billion above
the $1.014 trillion Congress agreed to in January.
The additional spending would fund education, training and defense
projects, and would be offset by higher revenues obtained by closing
tax loopholes that benefit wealthy people. White House economic
forecasts are based on the assumption that Congress would pass the
president's proposal, but it was roundly rejected by most
Republicans and is unlikely to be become law.
The White House also said in its report that economic recovery tends
to be slower after a financial meltdown, such as the one triggered
by the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble.
But some economists dispute that finding. The slow recovery from the
most recent recession is an exception from what is normally a strong
rebound after a financial crisis, economists at the Cleveland
Federal Reserve wrote in 2012.
(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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