Tags: Goldstein | economy | productivity | data

MarketWatch's Goldstein: Productivity Data 'Paint Dismal Picture for Economy'

By    |   Thursday, 05 February 2015 02:28 PM

Many analysts are enthusiastic about the 4.1 percent average for economic growth in the last three quarters of 2014.

But the outlook going forward is none too pretty judging by productivity and population data, says Steve Goldstein, Washington, D.C. bureau chief for MarketWatch.

"A quick estimate of the growth potential of the U.S. economy is just the sum of productivity growth plus the growth in working-age population," he writes.

"It’s tough to read much in the latest quarterly swings in productivity data, but taken over the last four years, they paint a fairly dismal picture of the potential for growth from the U.S. economy."

Productivity rose only 0.8 percent in 2014 and hasn't breached 1 percent in any year since the Great Recession ended in 2009.

"Even more sobering is the fact that the working-age population growth is set to decline — from roughly 0.5 percent right now, to just 0.2 percent in 10 years’ time," Goldstein says.

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer George Will is pessimistic too.

The economy's 2.4 percent growth rate for 2014 marks the ninth straight year under 3 percent, he writes in Investor's Business Daily. "During the recovery from the recession of 1981-82, five quarters enjoyed 7 percent or higher growth, and five years averaged 4.6 percent growth."

Will makes an interesting connection between the economy and our culture.

"Economic weakness — new business formations are at a 35-year low — is both a cause and a consequence of alarming cultural changes," he says.

"In 1960, 12 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds were never married. Today, 49 percent never have been. Although the population was 27 million larger in 2010 than in 2000, there were fewer births in 2010."

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Many analysts are enthusiastic about the 4.1 percent average for economic growth in the last three quarters of 2014.
Goldstein, economy, productivity, data
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2015-28-05
Thursday, 05 February 2015 02:28 PM
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