American productivity is being called into question.
Well, why not – they tried to claim that there was a coming recession and that failed. So, it stands to reason that they would find something else to try to alarm the American public. But, since the economy is roaring, that’s going to be difficult to do. Apparently this latest “chicken little” story is based on the fact that the Labor Department released a report of the “real output per hour” and that “fell an annualized 0.3% in the third quarter,” . . . “marking its first decline in nearly four years,” (ref WSJ). Hmmmm. The WSJ does begrudgingly admit that productivity data can be volatile on a quarterly basis. It’s not that the country is not producing – we’re actually producing very well. But it’s just not as quickly as the Journal would like. If those data can be relied on, part of the reason is likely that for the years from 2009-2012, the country’s corporations declined to institute more efficient equipment purchases because they were reluctant to make large expenditures during that uncertain time period. The Journal, again, reluctantly admits that economic growth is dependent upon two factors: the total number of hours that people work and the productivity growth. Well, let’s just say that the total number of hours being put in, currently, is the highest that has been seen in 50 years – with all races, genders and stereotypical ways of measuring things involved. It would be my guess that as the great numbers that have been added to the workforce during the past three years get fully up to speed in their jobs, that that productivity factor concern will be gone. But – really – a 0.3 % decline doesn’t really seem like something that we should be worrying about – it seems insignificant enough to be a rounding error. Unless, of course, we were looking for something to present as “troubling.”