From 1950 to 2000, the U.S. economy grew at an average rate of 3.5% per year. Over the past 15 years, it has grown at only 1.7% on average. Today, output per person is around $50,000 per person, up from $16,000 per person in 1950. Had it grown by only 2% for that entire period, per person output would be only $23,000.
Growth is important. It allows us to live better over time. Since 1950, our life span has increased by 10 years, our environment is cleaner, we are healthier, we have better access to education and many more choices in the department stores and on the internet to make our lives more fulfilling. But, if growth continues to remain below 2% as it has over the past dozen years, our children and grandchildren will not enjoy the increase in wealth that we have experienced.