Citing the fact that the real gross domestic product (GDP) per capita was higher in 1997 than ever before, some journalists have argued that the United States economy performed ideally in 1997. However, the real GDP is almost always higher than ever before; it falls only during recessions. One point these journalists overlooked is that in 1997, as in the twenty-four years immediately preceding it, the real GDP per capita grew nearly one-half percent a year more slowly than it had on average between 1873 and 1973. Were the 1997 economy as robust as claimed, the growth rate of real GDP per capita in 1997 would have surpassed the average growth rate of real GDP per capita between 1873 and 1973 because over fifty percent of the population worked for wages in 1997 whereas only forty percent worked for wages between 1873 and 1973. If the growth rate of labor productivity (output per hour of goods and services) in 1997 had equaled its average growth rate between 1873 and 1973 of more than two percent, then, given the proportionately larger workforce that existed in 1997, real GDP per capita in 1997 would have been higher than it actually was, since output is a major factor in GDP. However, because labor productivity grew by only one percent in 1997, real GDP per capita grew more slowly in 1997 than it had on average between 1873 and 1973.


The passage is primarily concerned with


comparing various measures used to assess the performance of the United States economy in 1997

providing evidence that the performance of the United States economy in 1997 was similar to its performance between 1873 and 1973

evaluating an argument concerning the performance of the United States economy in 1997

examining the consequences of a popular misconception about the performance of the United States economy in 1997

supporting an assertion made by journalists about the performance of the United States economy in 1997

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