Jobless Productivity Growth

Jan. 21, 2010
U.S. productivity grew 2.5% in 2009, The Conference Board reports, but this growth came at the expense of jobs. The research group said the rise came as a result of employment dropping 3.6% and hours worked per worker fell 1.5%, offsetting the output ...

U.S. productivity grew 2.5% in 2009, The Conference Board reports, but this growth came at the expense of jobs. The research group said the rise came as a result of employment dropping 3.6% and hours worked per worker fell 1.5%, offsetting the output decline. U.S. productivity should grow 3% in 2010.

China's productivity grew 8.2% in 2009, the best among emerging nations, and is expected to grow 7.7% this year. "China's 2009 productivity growth is largely due to government stimulus supporting state-owned enterprises," says Bart van Ark, chief economist of The Conference Board. "Going forward, it remains to be seen whether this can continue as support for SOEs wanes."

Van Ark says emerging markets outside of Central and East Europe and Russia were the winners in 2009 in terms of both output and productivity growth. "Emerging economies are becoming global competitors to be reckoned with on the basis of high productivity growth, not just because of low cost," he notes.

Global productivity declined 1% in 2009, the first time it has been in negative territory in 19 years. However, it should grow 2.2% in 2010.

While both the United States and Europe will see higher productivity growth coming out of the recession, says van Ark, "a jobless productivity recovery is the most likely scenario in both regions."

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