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 Home > News & Policies > January 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 9, 2004

Fact Sheet: America's Economy on the Path to Recovery

Today's Presidential Action

  • President Bush today met with small business owners at the U.S. Department of Commerce to discuss his small business agenda and his six-point plan to create jobs in America and ensure a full economic recovery.
  • As 2004 begins, America's economy is strong and getting stronger. More Americans than ever own their homes. More businesses are investing. Indicators of manufacturing activity are higher than at any time during the last 20 years, as was economic growth in the third quarter of 2003. Stock market wealth has increased by more than $3 trillion over the past year. Because of the continuing effects of President Bush's tax relief, workers will continue to keep more of what they earn in the future, and small businesses will be better able to invest and grow.
  • Today's employment numbers show that the nation has gained over a quarter million new jobs since last summer, but the report also underscores that there is still more work to do in ensuring that every American who wants to work can find a job. The American economy has proven extremely resilient in recovering from the shocks of recession, 9/11 and corporate scandals. The President's policies are helping to put the economy on a path to sustained growth and job creation, but we cannot rest until the recovery is complete.
  • The President will not be satisfied until every American looking for work has found a job. The President has outlined a six-point plan for building on the success of his jobs and growth agenda to create even more job opportunities for America's workers including: 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; opening new markets for American products; and enabling families and businesses to plan for the future with confidence by making tax reductions permanent.

Small Businesses Create Jobs For Americans

  • Small businesses create the majority of new jobs in our Nation and account for more than half of the output of our economy. Nearly half of all privately-held small businesses are majority- or equally-owned by women, and they continue to grow at twice the rate of all small U.S. firms. Because small businesses are vital to our Nation's prosperity and reflect the hard work of the American people, the President has taken important steps to assist small businesses and the people they employ by reducing taxes, encouraging investment, and removing obstacles to growth.
  • Taken together, the tax relief bills that President Bush signed in 2001 and 2003 will provide 25 million small business owners with savings averaging more than $2,800 each. The 2003 bill also quadrupled the amount that small businesses can expense for new capital investments, encouraging new investment in technology, machinery, and other equipment. This new technology and equipment will increase productivity and create new jobs, thereby contributing to the overall strength of our economy.

Background on Recent Economic Indicators

  • The Economy is Gaining Strength
    • Real GDP growth in the third quarter of 2003 was 8.2 percent at an annual rate, the best in nearly 20 years. The consensus of private forecasters is that growth will continue above the historical average (since 1960) of 3.3 percent for the next several quarters.
    • Financial markets reflect this optimism. The value of U.S. stock markets has increased by more than $3 trillion since the beginning of the year--increasing the value of many workers' 401K plans and other investments.
  • Household Spending--A Source of Strength in Recent Years--Has Increased Even Further Since Early Summer
    • Housing starts in November were at their highest levels in almost 20 years. Mortgage interest rates remain near historic lows.
    • Retail sales (excluding autos) grew at an average 9.1 percent annual rate over the last six months.
  • There Are Encouraging Signs for a Recovery in Business Spending
    • Surveys show that orders are increasing rapidly for manufacturers. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) survey's index of new orders in manufacturing is at 77.6, its highest level since 1950. Non-manufacturers also continue to report solid new orders well above the level of 50 that indicates expansion.
    • Shipments of durable goods strengthened markedly through late 2003. Real business investment in equipment and software rose 17.6 percent at an annual rate in the third quarter, the fastest growth in five years.
    • Productivity growth over the past four quarters is estimated to have been about 5.0 percent, about double the average rate from 1995-2000. Productivity growth since the fourth quarter of 2000 has been at the highest rate for a comparable period in 40 years. This has bolstered corporate profits and helped to keep inflation low.
  • Consumer Confidence and Business Confidence Surveys Show Increases
    • Consumer confidence has increased substantially since early 2003 and is now well above its levels one year ago.
    • Business executive confidence also rose in the third quarter to the highest level since 1992.
    • Investor confidence is also surging. The UBS Index of Investor Optimism rose 11 points to a 21-month high in November.