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Why it doesn't feel like a recovery

By Neil Irwin

The nationís economic woes boil down to this. Compared with a healthy economy, about 7 million working-age people and 5 percent of the nationís industrial capacity are sitting idle, not producing what they could. The economy is growing again, but at a rate ó less than 2 percent in recent months ó thatís too slow to keep up with a population that keeps increasing and workers who keep getting more efficient.

This is the output gap, the divide between the amount the United States can produce and what it is actually producing. The gap, currently $900 billion, explains why we feel so miserable more than a year into what is technically classified as an economic recovery.

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SOURCES: Washington Post analysis of Bureau of Economic Analysis and Congressional Budget Office data | GRAPHIC: Alicia Parlapiano / The Washington Post

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