Good morning. As families across the country enjoy the summer, Americans can be optimistic about our economic future. In the past four years, our economy has been through a lot: we faced a stock market decline, a recession, corporate scandals, an attack on our homeland, and the demands of an ongoing war on terror.
To grow the economy and help American families, we acted by passing the largest tax relief in a generation. And today, thanks to the tax relief and the efforts of America's workers and entrepreneurs, our economy is strong and growing stronger.
This past week, we learned that America added over 200,000 new jobs in July. Since May of 2003, we've added nearly 4 million new jobs. The unemployment rate is down to 5 percent, below the average of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. And more Americans are working today than ever before in our nation's history.
Recent economic reports show that our economy is growing faster than any other major industrialized nation. Small businesses are flourishing. Workers are taking home more of what they earn. Real disposable personal income has grown by over 12 percent since the end of 2000. Inflation is low and mortgage rates are low. And over the past year, the home ownership rate in America has reached record levels.
The tax relief stimulated economic vitality and growth and it has helped increase revenues to the Treasury. The increased revenues and our spending restraint have led to good progress in reducing the federal deficit. Last month we learned that the deficit is now projected to be $94 billion less than previously expected. I set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009, and we are ahead of pace to meet that goal.
To continue creating jobs and to ensure that our prosperity reaches every corner of America, we're opening markets abroad for our goods and services. This past week, I was proud to sign the Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement. This historic agreement will level the playing field for America's workers and farmers, and open up a market of 44 million customers for products made in the United States.
To keep our economy growing we also need affordable, reliable supplies of energy. Next week in New Mexico, I'll sign a bipartisan energy bill that encourages conservation, expands domestic production in environmentally sensitive ways, diversifies our energy supply, modernizes our electricity grid and makes America less dependent on foreign sources of energy. And next Wednesday in Illinois, I'll sign a highway bill that will improve the safety of our roads, strengthen our transportation infrastructure and create good jobs.
Our economy is strong, yet I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job. So this coming Tuesday I will meet with my economic team in Texas to discuss our agenda to keep the economy moving forward. As Congress considers appropriations bills this fall, we will work with the House and the Senate to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, or not at all.
We need to make the tax relief permanent, end the death tax forever, and make our tax code simpler, fairer and more pro-growth. We'll continue working on Social Security reform. Social Security is sound for today's seniors, but there's a hole in the safety net for our younger workers, so I'll work with the Congress to strengthen Social Security for our children and grandchildren. I'll continue to press for legal reform to protect small businesses, doctors and hospitals from junk lawsuits. And we will work to make health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans.
The American economy is the envy of the world and we will keep it that way. We will continue to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of America, so more of our citizens can realize the American Dream.
Thank you for listening.