Economic Growth Accelerates
It appears the cloudy years of slow growth and high unemployment in Europe are finally starting to clear while the United States’ economy seems to be slowing down.
The 3.6 percent economic growth that the 12-member eurozone economy enjoyed during the second quarter of this year (annualized rate) was its quickest in six years, according to recently released data (EUobserver.com, September 15). Growth in the United States, by contrast, fell to an annualized rate of 2.5 percent.
European employment is increasing too. Unemployment in the 12 nations that use the euro fell to 7.8 percent in June, the lowest level since the European Union’s statistical agency started keeping records in 1998. According to Holger Schmieding, a European economist at Bank of America, “[T]he eurozone is now creating jobs at a faster rate than the U.S.”—approximately 200,000 jobs a month (EUobserver.com, August 23).
To put Europe’s employment numbers in perspective, in July, America created just 113,000 jobs. Though the U.S. unemployment rate stands officially at only 4.8 percent, this figure does not include Americans who have abandoned their efforts to find work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics decided during the 1990s to exclude these individuals; economic analyst Jim Willie says if the jobless rate was calculated the way it used to be, it would now be about 7 percent (www.321gold.com, July 26).
The Guardian summed up the situation this way: “The recent flow of news from around the world suggests that the balance of world economic power may finally be swinging away from the United States—the powerhouse of the past decade or more—toward Japan and Europe …” (op. cit.).