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Projections of the U.S. economy, 2016–26: Slow growth continues

| November 2017

Between 2016 and 2026, the U.S. Bureau of Lab­­or Statistics (BLS) projects the economy to grow by 2.0 percent each year, on average. That’s faster than the 1.4-percent annual growth in the previous 10 years, a period heavily affected by the 2007–09 recession. However, as the chart shows, 2016–26 growth is not expected to reach the levels achieved in prior decades.

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Annual growth in real GDP from 1966–2016 to projected 2016–26 (percent)
Decade Annual growth in real GDP (percent)











Projected 2016–26


Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Economic growth is measured as the increased value of goods and services produced in the United States—real gross domestic product, or real GDP. The U.S economy, which includes the workers who produce goods and services, has changed over the past two decades.

The number of workers over age 55 has increased dramatically, an upward trend that is expected to continue. But the pace of labor force growth is projected to slow, which in turn is expected to limit GDP growth in the coming decade. This is one of the main reasons the projected 2016–26 growth rate of 2.0 percent remains lackluster, compared with growth rates of 3.0 percent or more in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

For 2026, the projected value of real GDP is $20.3 trillion in constant 2009 dollars. BLS uses the 2026 GDP estimate along with other assumptions about the economy to project industry output, which then is used to project employment in industries and occupations.

Learn more about the projections by visiting the BLS Employment Projections program.

About the Author

Kevin Dubina is an economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections. He can be reached at dubina.kevin@bls.gov .

Suggested citation:

Kevin Dubina , "Projections of the U.S. economy, 2016–26: Slow growth continues," Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 2017.

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/careeroutlook Contact Career Outlook

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