Revitalizing the U.S. Economy

Revitalizing the U.S. Economy

Revitalizing the U.S. Economy

Revitalizing the U.S. Economy

Excerpt

Amitai Etzioni

In the late 1970s, the United States of America became a member of a rather new and small category of countries properly defined as underdeveloping, countries whose economic development had slipped into reverse gear. The United Kingdom has been the other leading member of this category.

Among the indicators of eroding economic strength, one of the most prominent was productivity. From 1948 to the middle 1960s, output per hour in the United States grew about 3.2 percent per year, a rate which came to be considered normal. John Kendrick's data indicate, in fact, that U.S. productivity had been increasing significantly since 1800. During the period from 1967 to 1973, however, growth in productivity slipped to 2.1 percent per year, and in 1973 to 1979 it fell to 0.6 percent per year. Growth in total output and, even more markedly, in output per worker, also slowed. Annual growth in real gross national product (GNP) averaged 3.9 percent from 1960 to 1970. It slowed to 3.3 percent from 1970 to 1978; in 1979, it was 2.3 percent. GNP per employed worker increased 1.9 percent per year from 1963 to 1973, a meager 0.1 percent per year from 1973 to 1979. This latter rate of growth was estimated to be well below not only that of Germany and Japan but also that of France (2.7 percent), Italy (1.6 percent), and even the United Kingdom (0.3 percent). Further signs that all was not well included rising inflation, interest rates, public debt, and lower saving.

While in a quest for more social growth and greater harmony with the environment, not all observers of the U.S. scene are unfavorable to slower (or even no) economic growth; recently there has been increased . . .

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