President George W. Bush delivers remarks on the economy in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, April 15, 2004.
President Bushs Actions Are Helping to Drive Our Economic Recovery
The Presidents Jobs and Growth tax relief package helped drive the strong improvement in our economy. It raised the level of economic activity and productivity, which will result in higher incomes and living standards for American workers. Recently released data confirm that the economy is strong and growing stronger:
The American economy grew at a strong annual pace of 4.2 percent during the first quarter of 2004 well above the historical average, and continuing the strong growth seen over the previous two quarters. Economic growth over the last three quarters has been the fastest in nearly 20 years, at a 5.5 percent annual rate that would double the real size of the economy in 13 years. The President's policies have helped propel the recovery forward, putting more money in the pockets of Americas families and laying a foundation for growth and job creation now and for years to come.
Household spending continues to be strong. As a result of the Presidents 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, personal consumption levels have risen significantly. Real after-tax incomes are up by 10% since December 2000 substantially better than those following the last recession.
Retail sales other than motor vehicles in the first quarter of 2004 increased 11.6 percent, more than double the average annual rate of growth over the last decade.
Consumer confidence is at its highest level in 3 months and is rising. The Conference Board said its index of consumer confidence increased 4.4 points to 92.9 in April, from 88.5 in March.
New housing construction in March surged to levels near those of December 2003, when they were at their highest levels in almost 20 years.
In the first quarter of 2004, the national homeownership rate reached a record high of 68.6 percent, beating the record set in the previous quarter.
Minority homeownership set a new quarterly record of 50.8 percent in the first quarter, up 0.2 percentage points from the fourth quarter and up 1.5 percentage points from the first quarter of 2003.
Inflation remains restrained, with the core CPI (Consumer Price Index) rising only 1.6 percent and the core finished-goods PPI (Producer Price Index) rising only 0.7 percent over the last 12 months.
Mortgage rates remain near historic lows, making homebuying easier and more affordable.
American companies are reporting historic levels of growth
Productivity grew from 2000 to 2003 at the fastest 3-year rate in more than 50 years. This has bolstered profits and will lead to significantly higher real wages for workers.
More manufacturers have been reporting increased activity and new orders than at any time in the last 20 years. The ISM Manufacturing employment index in April was at its highest level since 1987.
The Presidents jobs and growth policies have put the economy on the road to recoverybut there is more work to be done. The President has outlined a six-point plan to create even more job opportunities for Americas workers and keep America the best place in the world to do business. The plan includes: enabling families and businesses to plan for the future with confidence by making tax reductions permanent; making health care costs more affordable and predictable; reducing the burden of lawsuits on our economy; ensuring an affordable, reliable energy supply; streamlining regulations and paperwork requirements; and opening new markets for American products and services.
America has a choice: It can continue to grow the economy and create new jobs as the Presidents policies are doing; or it can raise taxes on American families and small businesses, hurting economic recovery and future job creation. A pro-growth agenda, strong education system, and help for American workers to gain the skills to secure good jobs are the right ways to respond to the challenges of our growing and changing economy.