President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver his last speech as the 44th president of the United States tonight in Chicago. He described the farewell speech as a chance to “celebrate” the country’s progress over the last eight years and "offer some thoughts on where we all go from here."
The speech comes as the U.S. economy reached its 75th consecutive month of job growth — one indication of how Obama is handing off a far better economy than he inherited in 2009.
“Certainly the starting point was a severe recession,” said Jim O’Sullivan of High Frequency Economics. “So relative to that, the economy’s come a long way.”
Here’s a snapshot of how the economy has fared since Obama started at the White House:
Employers have added more than 11 million jobs.
The unemployment rate has fallen by more than half since its peak, partly due to more discouraged job seekers dropping out of the labor force.
Gross domestic product was sluggish in prior quarters, but grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent last quarter.
Wage growth is up, reaching 2.9 percent last month.
But how much credit can the president take?
“There’s no question there are some major secular trends, which would have occurred regardless of who the president was,” O’Sullivan said.
Betsey Stevenson, who served on the White House Council of Economic Advisors, said efforts to stabilize the financial sector, a stimulus package, and a bailout of the auto industry helped.
“There were important steps that had to be taken, and those decisions led to the U.S. having much better outcomes than other countries,” she said.
On the other hand, critics point to sluggish economic growth and the near-doubling of the national debt. Problems President-elect Donald Trump will inherit on Jan. 20th.