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posted on 22 October 2016

U.S. Productivity Growth Flowing Downstream

from the Dallas Fed

-- this post authored by Michael Sposi and Kelvinder Virdi

Measurements of U.S. productivity growth have declined, particularly in the high-tech sector. This may reflect increased U.S. specialization in upstream activities in the global supply chain. Those activities tend to experience slower productivity growth.

Productivity is the most important component of sustained, long-run economic growth. Sluggish productivity growth has been a primary reason for the weak U.S. recovery following the Great Recession. U.S. real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) growth had averaged 4.2 percent per year in the four years following recessions during the postwar era.

However, since the trough of the 2007 - 09 Great Recession, output has grown at less than half that rate. GDP per worker has increased an average of 0.4 percent per year since 2010, compared with 1.8 percent from 1947 to 2009. Researchers and policymakers have proposed two explanations for declining productivity growth, particularly in hightech sectors.

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