China, Poland, India Outpace U.S.

Don Hogsett, Staff Staff, January 30, 2006

New York — The high U.S. growth rate in labor productivity, a key driver of corporate profits and economic growth in recent years, has slowed substantially, while emerging market nations like Asia and Eastern Europe are catching up, The Conference Board reported.

In a study on global labor productivity, the business think tank concluded, “The times of extraordinarily high U.S. labor productivity are over, at least for now.” Indeed, productivity growth in the U.S. slowed to just 1.8 percent in 2005, down from 3.0 percent the year before.

“The U.S. performance is still good compared to Europe,” said Bart van Ark, director of The Conference Board's international economic research program and co-author of the report. “What is striking in these new numbers is the sustained productivity acceleration in the emerging markets of Central and Eastern Europe and Asia. In fact, economies such as China and Poland are accelerating to around eight percent.”

The U.S. ranked well in the study against developed nations, where most countries experienced a slowdown last year, with growth rates in the 1.5 to 2.0 percent range. Japan's productivity rate was 1.9 percent, far ahead of a sluggish European Union, up just 0.5 percent.

At the high end of the ranking was China, up 8.7 percent, up sharply from an average rate of 3.1 percent between 1995 and 2000. Poland was up 7.7 percent; and India grew by 4.4 percent.

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