A Depression-era bread line in New York's Times Square is shown in this Dec. 8, 1930, file photo.
Credits: FILE PHOTO
WASHINGTON, DC -- The US economy is extremely weak and things are hardly getting better.
In fact, these last three years following the recession that ended in June 2009 has marked the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression, according to a new analysis by the Associated Press.
By almost every measure -- jobs recovered, GDP growth, housing investments, government and consumer spending, and government jobs -- the US economy has never been so slow to bounce back from a recession.
Studying the three years following the past nine recessions going back to the Second World War, the report found the average recovery of jobs lost during the recession was 350%.
But in the past three years, the economy has only recovered 46% -- four million of the 8.8 million jobs lost from 2007 to June 2009 and the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 8.3%.
And where GDP growth has averaged 15% in the three years following the postwar recessions, this recovery has only seen a 6.8% increase.
Investment in housing and consumer spending are also well below average during this recovery at 8% and 6.5%, instead of 34% and 14% respectively.
All of this terrible news will help strengthen the Republicans' message that President Barack Obama has stood in the way and hampered, not helped, the rebound.
That has been Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's charge throughout the entire campaign.
But the report could strengthen the Democrats' case, too.
On average, government spending increased 12.5% in the three years following the previous nine recessions, but this recovery has actually seen a decrease in government spending of 4.5%. (President Ronald Reagan jacked government spending 15% in the years following the 1981-82 recession.)
And federal and state governments have also typically added jobs to their payrolls in the wake of the postwar recessions. For example, one million jobs were added following the 1973-74 recession, but this recovery has seen a loss of 642,000 public jobs.
Obama is keen to increase spending for projects such as roads, bridges and new schools, and hire more teachers, police officers and firefighters. The AP analysis shows that has happened in the past during faster economic recoveries.
The problem for the Democrats though, is that new poll numbers suggest nearly two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy and the election is less than three months away.
The Gallup Daily tracking figures, released Thursday, show only 36% of likely voters approve of Obama's handling of the economy, only 37% approve of his jobs creation strategy and a whopping 64% don't approve of how Obama has handled of the country's growing deficit.
But in the same poll, Obama did get high marks -- 58% approval -- for his handling of terrorism.