The Myth of American Productivity

We’ve all heard politicians boast that American workers are the most productive workers in the world. It’s worth pausing to consider whether that’s true or not.

Michael Mandel tackles the issue in a new piece for the print edition of the Washington Monthly, and this editors’ summary set the stage for an interesting piece:

One thing Barack Obama and Mitt Romney agree on is that America can achieve broad prosperity again because we have “the most productive workers in the world.” And indeed, federal data seem to prove their point: despite steady job losses in the industrial sector, made worse by the Great Recession, America’s manufacturing output is 16 percent higher than it was a decade ago.

But what if these productivity figures are fatally flawed? In the latest issue of the Washington Monthly, economist Michael Mandel makes the case that a fundamental statistical blind spot calls into question both parties’ assumptions about the underlying strength of the economy and what it will take to put it back on track.

Read “The Myth of American Productivity.”