Worrisome Productivity Numbers

After huge gains from 1998 through 2004, this key economic indicator has downshifted.

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From 1998 through 2004, U.S. worker productivity rose by a red-hot 2.9 percent, 2.8 percent, 2.9 percent, 2.5 percent, 4.1 percent, 3.7 percent, and 2.8 percent. But in the past three years, it has risen by just 1.9 percent, 1.0 percent, and 1.8 percent—the final number out today from the Labor Department. Since rising productivity is what will determine our future standard of living and our ability to meet numerous future financial obligations—from the global war on terrorism to entitlements—I find this decline to be most worrisome. Stay tuned ...

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Department of Labor

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