September 19, 2021

U.S. economy has grown bigger — and weaker — since 9/11

Although the U.S. economy was officially in recession when the planes struck on 9/11, it bounced back quickly after the attacks. Growth slumped over the final months of 2001, but by January 2002 consumers and businesses had regained their nerve. Politicians and the press pointed to the rebound as evidence of America’s resilience — a testament to the country’s vaunted power of capitalist self-renewal. 

Two decades later another threat, this one in the form of a virus crowned with spikes, would put tens of millions of Americans out of work virtually overnight, snuffing out the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. 

The economy has since regained its footing, yet any claim that we are now made whole rings false. Like the grueling slog that followed the 2008 financial crisis, this latest recovery only papers over existing fault lines: inequality, political dysfunction,…

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