Monday, December 6, 1999
Volume 35, Issue 48; ISSN: 0511-4187
Remarks on economic growth
William J Clinton
� Remarks on Economic Growth
� December 3,1999
� Thank you very much. Thank you, Secretary Herman and Council of
Economic Advisers Chairman Martin Baily, and especially, thank you,
Marvin Dawkins, for your remarks and for the power of your example.
� This is a very different time than we were experiencing 7 years ago
this month. When I ran for President in 1992, it was a time of
economic distress and uncertainty for our country. While some people
were moving from the industrial to the information economy with
optimism and purpose, many others felt fear and uncertainty because
of the problems in our economy, high unemployment, big deficits,
high interest rates, low productivity gains, falling real wages for
� Too many Americans couldn't tell the story that Marvin just told.
They lacked the skills they needed to succeed in the new economy;
they felt threatened by the changes; and they had no access to the
tools that would lift them up.
� But when I traveled around the country in 1992 with the Vice
President, we saw a lot of signs of hope. We saw a lot of people who
were winning. And we became even more convinced that our country, as
a whole, could do very well in this new global information economy,
if we could create the conditions and provide all Americans the
tools necessary to succeed.
� It seemed to me that there were three absolutely pivotal elements.
First, fiscal discipline: We had to get rid of the deficit and get
interest rates back down and get investment back up. Second,
expanded trade: We had 4 percent of the world's people and 22
percent of the world's income; even someone technologically
challenged like me could figure out we had to sell something to the
other 96 percent of the people on the globe. And third, greater
investments in new technologies and in our people in their capacity
not only to know what they needed to know but to learn for a
lifetime. And people like Marvin Dawkins are Exhibit A of the
pivotal importance of that.
� Now in 1993, we put in place a new economic strategy. it cut the
deficit and increased investment by eliminating hundreds of
inessential programs and putting us on a path that now has given us
the smallest Federal Government in 37 years. In 1997, with the
Balanced Budget Act, we continued the strategy, again increasing
investment, cuttinginessential programs, first balancing the budget
and then providing the first back-toback budget surpluses in 42
� Now that led to lower interest rates, which helped ordinary
Americans in all kinds of ways. It cut the price of the average home
mortgage by $2,000, the price of the average car payments by $200 a
year, the average college loan payment by $200 a year. But
critically, it also cut the borrowing costs and the investment
costs, therefore, for new businesses, especially for investment in
new productivity-enhancing technologies.
� At the same time, we negotiated over 270 trade agreements,
including dozens of them involving high technology issues, all of
which helped Americans to increase exports of high technology
products-services. We promoted more competition in
telecommunications, providing American consumers with the lowest
Internet access rates in the world and fueling the growth of
E-commerce. And we've taken actions that have led to the creation of
a whole new generation of digital wireless phones, you know, the
kind you hear go off in restaurants, movie theaters, and
Presidential press conferences. [Laughter]
investment in education and training, everything from preschool to
dramatically increasing college access, to establishing lifetime
access to training and retraining programs for people like Marvin.
� Now, as a result of these actions and, most importantly, the
innovation and the hard work of the American people, we are now
experiencing an amazing virtuous cycle of progress and prosperity
that few could have imagined. We are in the midst of the longest
peacetime economic expansion in American history. If as seems highly
likely it goes on through February, it will become the longest
economic expansion in our history.
� It has given us low inflation, the lowest unemployment rate in 30
years, also the lowest welfare rolls in 30 years, the lowest poverty
rates in 20 years, the highest homeownership ever recorded, the
lowest AfricanAmerican and Hispanic unemployment rates ever
recorded, the lowest African-American poverty rate ever recorded,
the lowest Hispanic poverty rate recorded in a generation, the
lowest poverty rate among households headed by single adults in over
40 years, and the lowest unemployment rate among women in 40 years.
social policy. More and more Americans are mastering the skills and
reaping the benefits of this new economy, and America itself
continues to lead in new technologies, from E-commerce to biotech,
that are shaping the future of the entire world.
� Now today, I want to talk about one more piece of stunningly good
economic news that is the direct result of the actions that have
been taken and the work that has been done by our people to propel
our economy into the new century, and now, we have a hightech
animation behind me [laughter]-to illustrate this good economic
news. I hate to compete with the movies, and I'll probably
lose-[laughter]-but the idea is that I'm supposed to be the narrator
of this show. [Laughter]
� What you see behind me is a graphic representation of the growth of
new jobs in America, beginning in 1993, as well as the geographic
location of these jobs. You can see they have been spread across the
country, wherever people live. Virtually no area of our Nation has
been left out. At the bottom, you can also see a running tally of
running tally. [Laughter] But the latest figures are being released
� Come along. [Laughter] What did you say? Filler, filler. [Laughter]
I've never been at a loss for words. [Laughter] Why can't I do this?
� With today's new numbers, we have truly crossed a remarkable
threshold: 20 million jobs. In fact, the specific number behind me
is 20,043,000 jobs, thanks to the hard work of the American people,
the economic policies we have pursued.
� To give you some idea of what this means, 20 million jobs is a
number greater than the population of Minneapolis and St. Paul,
Denver, Washington, San Francisco, Dallas, Miami, Buffalo,
Cleveland, and Little Rock combined. [Laughter] Twenty million
people would fill the Rose Bowl to capacity 200 times over. Twenty
million jobs are a lot of jobs.
� And by and large, those jobs are good, well-paying jobs, jobs on
which you can support a family, buy a home, afford a vacation, save
in a new report being released today by my Council of Economic
Advisers and the Department of Labor.
� The report finally should put to rest the old myths about the new
economy. The 20 million new jobs we have created mostly are
high-wage not low-wage jobs. Over 80 percent of them are in job
categories that pay above the median wage. They are mostly fulltime,
not part-time. In fact, the proportion of Americans in part-time
work has actually fallen a bit in the last few years.
� Finally, those 20 million new jobs have benefited not just one race
or class of Americans but all Americans. Unlike the end of the last
economic expansion in the 1980's, when average wages went down,
wages during the last 4 years of this expansion have gone up across
the board in all income categories, with some of the biggest gains
coming to some of our hardest pressed working families. As I said-I
want to say this again, because I think it is worth reiterating;
this economy is not just 20 million new jobs and a stock market that
went above 11000 again today-I never talk about it because it goes
down as well as up, but it's done pretty well. But let me say again,
recorded-and we've been separating the figures for nearly 30 years
now-the lowest Hispanic unemployment rate on record and the lowest
Hispanic poverty rate in over 25 years, the highest minority
homeownership on record, the lowest female unemployment rate since
1953. And I don't need to remind the large group of women in this
audience that in 1953, there were a lot smaller percentage of women
in the work force, so this is actually a much more important figure
than even that number indicates.
� Now, technology has been a very important part of this economic
performance. It has given us big productivity gains. The information
technology sector alone has been responsible for about a third of
our economic growth. And jobs in that sector pay nearly 80 percent
more than the private sector average. If we want our current
prosperity to continue into the 21st century, we must therefore
clearly continue to encourage the creation and the spread of new
technologies in our own economy.
� Therefore, I would like to highlight a couple of things that I
think are of real importance in the budget agreement achieved with
signed contains substantial increases in direct Federal investment
and long-term research and development. This is still very
important, as all the private sector experts tell us. it is the kind
of investment that allowed the Defense Department to create the
predecessor of today's Internet 30 years ago, that led Marc
Andresen, working at a federally funded supercomputer center, to
develop the first graphical web browser.
� We worked hard to get increases not only for biomedical research
that had strong support in our Congress but for other science and
engineering disciplines as well. And I would like to make this point
very strongly, because it's one that I hope to make more progress on
next year and hope to see our country embrace as a policy across the
board, without regard to party: It is very important that we have a
balanced research portfolio. And I don't believe that the National
Institutes of Health has had a stronger supporter than me. I believe
that. But we have to have a balanced research portfolio, because the
research enterprise is increasingly interdependent. Advances in
health care, for example, are often dependent on breakthroughs in
other disciplines, such as the physics needed for medical imaging
rapidly or to continue the mapping of the human genome.
� Just think what these investments could mean. Today, scientists and
engineers all over the country have ideas for new technologies they
need Federal help to explore, technologies that could transform our
economy and our lives in the future just as dramatically as the
Internet is doing today. There is really a continuing revolution, as
we all know, in all kinds of computer technology, in biomedical
research, and also in materials development, which I'll say a little
� We'll have new materials as strong as steel but 10 times lighter.
At the Detroit auto show this year, they were already showing cars
500 to 1,000 pounds lighter that have exactly the same safety tests
as the old cars with steel. Obviously, that dramatically increases
mileage, that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. We could have new
drugs that might cure spinal cord injuries or new computer chips
that might simulate nerve movements that allow people to function
without the nerves actually being reconnected.
out here, we had CNN on in the little anteroom, and they pointed out
that Stevie Wonder was about to have experimental surgery to have a
computer chip inserted in his retina to see if it can simulate and
recreate the functioning that was lost when he was an infant. We
obviously all hope it will work. But I can tell you this: Someday,
such things will work, and it won't be very long in the future.
� We already have fuel cells and blended fuel engines for automobiles
which will take mileage up to 70 and 80 miles a gallon. We will soon
have, I believe, ultra-clean fuel cells for cars, whose only
byproduct will be water clean enough to drink; computers that can
translate English into foreign languages and vice-versa as fast as
people can speak. All these things are right around the comer, but
we have to continue our commitment to research,
� Second, later this month, I will sign a tax measure that extends
for 5 years the life of the vitally important research and
experimentation tax credit. This is important because this tax
credit gives private firms the incentives they need to invest in
innovative technologies that often don't show up quickly on the
and that immediately provide tremendous benefits to society as a
� Third, last week I signed legislation to help accelerate
competition in the telecommunication industry, to give consumers
more choices and lower prices. I also signed a bill to strengthen
and streamline our patent and intellectual property system, to
strengthen the incentives for the next Alexander Graham Bell or
Steve jobs, to create the inventions and innovations that will drive
the 21st century economy.
� No one today can say for sure what our economy will look like in 25
or 50 years or what as yet unimagined technologies will transform
our lives. But we do know that it will be truly amazing, and it will
happen with breathtaking speed and scope. And we know that our
Nation has always prospered when Government has invested in giving
people the opportunity to make the most of their vision and their
dreams, from financing the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and
Clark Expedition to the Interstate Highway System and the space
We are always drawn to uncharted lands over the next horizon. Who
will pack our bags and head out to the latest gold rush or tinker in
our basements for years to invent a product no one else has ever
imagined? That's what we do.
� Today, thanks to wise investments made by Government and the
private sector over many years, the American people have before them
the unexplored continent of cyberspace and the prospect of
discovering what is in the black holes in outer space. By continuing
these commitments, we can celebrate more days like today.
� Thank you very much. Thank you.
� NOTE: The President spoke at 1:25 p.m. in Presidential Hall
(formerly Room 450) in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office
Building. In his remarks, he referred to Marvin Dawkins, former AT&T
employee who took advantage of retraining opportunities to begin a
new career, who introduced the President; Marc Andresen, cofounder
Netscape Communications Corp.; and musician Stevie Wonder.