Standard of Living Posts First Decline since 19982

THE JOURNAL RECORD, July 10, 1991 | Go to article overview

Standard of Living Posts First Decline since 19982


WASHINGTON (AP) _ Americans' standard of living declined in 1990 for the first time since the last recession as U.S. standing among industrial countries continued to lag, a commission reported Tuesday.

The study by the Council on Competitiveness tracks America's performance since 1972 when compared with six other industrialized countries _ Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada. Those nations along with the United States participate in a major economic summit every year.

The report also found that for the third year in a row, the United States invested less in new factories and equipment as a share of its total economy than any of its major competitors.

"While other industrial nations are laying the foundation for strong economic growth, the United States continues to be a slumbering giant,"

said council Chairman George Fisher, the head of Motorola Inc. "The American dream may not be what most Americans expect if current trends continue."

The council, composed of business, academic and labor leaders, promotes policies aimed at boosting America's ability to compete internationally.

Its fourth annual competitiveness index seeks to measure U.S.

performance against its chief economic rivals in four key areas:

Investment.

Productivity.

Trade.

Standard of living.

Those four areas were chosen because without adequate investment, America's productivity growth will lag. And without gains in productivity, the country will be unable to compete in international markets and its standard of living will fall.

The report said the United States, because of the recession, suffered percent decline in its standard of living last year. That was the first time the standard of living had failed to improve since a 3.4 percent drop during the severe 1982 recession.

It is not unusual for living standards _ defined as total output of goods and services divided by total population _ to go down during recessions because output declines while population growth continues.

While the United States still enjoys the highest standard of living of any of the summit nations, the report said America's competitors have been rapidly closing the gap. …

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