13th annual Municipal Finance Conference


13th annual Municipal Finance Conference


U.S. Productivity Growth: An Optimistic Perspective



Recent literature has expressed considerable pessimism about the prospects for both productivity and overall economic growth in the U.S. economy, based either on the idea that the pace of innovation has slowed or on concern that innovation today is hurting job creation. While recognizing the problems facing the economy, this paper offers a more optimistic view of both innovation and future growth, a potential return to the innovation and employment-led growth of the 1990s. Technological opportunities remain strong in advanced manufacturing and the energy revolution will spur new investment, not only in energy extraction, but also in the transportation sector and in energy-intensive manufacturing. Education, health care, infrastructure (construction) and government are large sectors of the economy that have lagged behind in productivity growth historically. This is not because of a lack of opportunities for innovation and change but because of a lack of incentives for change and institutional rigidity.


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