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Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson July 21, 2016
Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman July 21, 2016

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is wrong about the U.S. economy not growing

Republican Gov. Rick Scott likes to be known as the "jobs governor" in Florida.

Opening the third night of the Republican National Convention, Scott said the United States is struggling on the economic front, and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump knows how to make it strong again.

"Let me tell you why this is the time for Donald to be president," Scott said. "A lot of politicians like to give speeches where they say ‘We are at a crossroads.’ That’s not really where we are today. Today America is in a terrible world, record-high debt. Our economy is not growing. Our jobs are going overseas. We’ve allowed our military to decay and we project weakness on the international stage."

Trump made a similar statement about the economy at a Miami debate in March. Trump said, "GDP was zero essentially for the last two quarters," which rated False.

Our fact-check will focus on Scott’s statement that the economy is "not growing." We emailed Scott’s political consultant Wednesday night and did not get a reply by deadline.

Economic growth

A key way to measure economic growth is the gross domestic product, or GDP, which is the sum total of a country’s economic activity.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis within the U.S. Department of Commerce posts quarterly and annual GDP data for the United States.

According to the data, GDP has grown every year since 2010, between 1.5 and 2.5 percent a year. The last time GDP was negative was in 2009 -- negative 2.8 percent -- amid the recession.

So for the past few years, the economy has been growing — maybe just not by as much as Scott would like.

To be fair, Scott isn’t alone in wishing growth were higher. As we have previously reported, there’s a common belief among economists that the United States is unlikely to see the rapid growth it experienced during the first few decades after World War II, when the country had fewer international competitors.

Featured Fact-check

Former 2016 Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush faced skepticism when he laid out a goal for 4 percent growth.

Quite a few Republican presidents have served during times of slow growth as well.

According to a July 2014 paper by economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson, GDP growth hovered around 2 percent during the second term of President Dwight Eisenhower; the combined second term of President Richard Nixon and the tenure of his successor President Gerald Ford; and the single term of President George H.W. Bush. And the growth rate for the second term of President George W. Bush was well below 1 percent.

We interviewed three experts on the economy who disputed Scott’s claim. In addition to the growing GDP, they mentioned other positive economic signs, such as growing private sector jobs and the decline of the unemployment rate since the end of the recession.

"Certainly the recovery since 2009 has not been as swift as would be ideal, but ‘not growing’ does not seem adequately supported to me," said University of California Davis history professor Eric Rauchway.

The American economy has been growing since the recovery started in June 2009, said Jeffrey Frankel, a Harvard University professor of capital formation and growth who served as a Council of Economic Advisers member in the Bill Clinton administration.

"Growth in GDP since then, while not as strong as we would like, has been steady," Frankel said. "And it has been clearly greater than growth in Europe or Japan."

Our ruling

Scott said, "Our economy is not growing."

The GDP has grown between 1.5 and 2.5 percent each year since 2010. That’s perhaps not the level of growth Scott wants, but it’s misleading to say that the economy isn’t growing.

We rate this claim False.

Our Sources

Gov. Rick Scott, Republican National Convention speech, July 20, 2016

Bureau of Economic Analysis, "Table 1.1.1. Percent Change From Preceding Period in Real Gross Domestic Product," accessed July 20, 2016

The National Bureau of Economic Research, "President and the U.S. Economy: An econometric exploration," July 2014

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Civilian unemployment rate, 2016

The Atlantic, "Can Jeb Bush Deliver 4 Percent Economic Growth?" Feb. 4, 2015

New York Times, "Jeb Bush wants 4 percent growth. That will be hard to reach," June 16, 2015

PolitiFact, "No, GDP growth was not zero, as Donald Trump said in Miami GOP debate," March 11, 2016

PolitiFact, "Does CBO report suggest U.S. economy faces a decade of 'protracted economic malaise'?" April 11, 2016

Interview, Eric Rauchway, University of California Davis Professor of History, July 20, 2016

Interview, Jeffrey Frankel, Harvard Professor of Capital Formation and Growth, July 20, 2016

Interview, Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director, July 20, 2016

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott is wrong about the U.S. economy not growing

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