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Good afternoon; thank you all for coming. I welcome my Cabinet colleagues here at the Treasury Department today. Secretary Chao, Secretary Gutierrez, thank you for being here and for your dedication to the economic strength of this great nation.
As we look back at our economy's strong performance over the last year, Americans have a great deal to be proud of and every reason to be optimistic about the future. More Americans are working than ever before � with nearly 4.5 million jobs created since May of 2003 � the economy has been expanding steadily by more than 3% for 10 consecutive quarters; and household wealth--the value of people's savings and homes--is at an all-time high.
While economic growth in other industrialized countries has stagnated � with unemployment rates reaching into double-digits in some cases � the American economy has continued to set the standard for economic performance among industrialized nations.
We have every reason to believe that our path of growth and job creation will continue. We are looking forward to continued robust growth in payrolls and, as headline inflation recedes, real wage growth. I'd also expect to see continued GDP growth in the range of what we've seen over the past couple of years.
It is a responsibility of government to create the conditions for prosperity. President Bush's economic policies, centered on lower tax rates on both labor and capital, encourage entrepreneurship and reward workers' efforts. And America has the most productive workers and businesses in the world. Along with sound monetary policy from the Federal Reserve, these policies are delivering results and proving the pessimists and naysayers wrong.
In May 2003, President Bush worked with Congress to enact the tax policy that breathed life into the economy, and has since encouraged a strong recovery. Critics of the proposal disputed our view that this reform would create jobs and spur economic growth. One critic called the plan "tragic"; another leader said it was "reckless" and wouldn't create jobs.
Hindsight has a way of settling these debates. The facts are now in. Since May of 2003, GDP has grown at above 4% on average and turned in an impressive 4.3% growth rate for the third quarter of this year. Growth that strong, even in the face of the challenges presented by the GulfCoast hurricanes, is a testament to the resiliency and fundamental strength of the American economy.
Job creation is the reward of strong economic growth, and November's employment report brings the total of jobs created since May of 2003 to four and a half million -- with 1.8 million new jobs created this year. The 215,000 jobs added in November continue 30 months of uninterrupted economic growth.
There were some who said government revenues would plummet if we reduced taxes. That hasn't happened either. Since May 2003, strong economic growth has driven federal revenues to record levels proving that lower taxes are consistent with higher federal receipts.
American families are enjoying the benefits of a strong economy. Last week, we learned that household wealth reached an all-time high of $51.1 trillion in the third quarter. This means that the value of average Americans' bank accounts, 401Ks, and homes has never been higher.
The picture is of an American economy that is doing well. But there is more work to be done. The President will not be satisfied until every American is doing well, in an economy that does well. That is why this President is so committed to tackling the things that get in the way of prosperity such as higher taxes. My colleagues, Secretaries Gutierrez and Chao, will now offer some more detailed insight into how businesses and workers are doing and then we'll take your questions at the end.