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Productivity Measurement Initiative

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About the Productivity Measurement InitiativeProductivity Measurement Oversight PanelPublicationsQuestions 


About THE PRODUCTIVITY MEASUREMENT Initiative

After nearly a decade of strong productivity growth starting in the mid-1990s, there has been much slower growth since then. Output per hour worked in the US business sector has grown at only 1.3 percent a year over the period 2004 to 2015; and growth has been even slower from 2010 to 2015, at just 0.5 percent a year. These rates are only half or less of the pace of growth achieved in the past. The United States is not alone in facing this problem, as all of the major advanced economies have also seen slow productivity growth. This growth weakness has been a major determinant of weak overall GDP growth, stagnation in real wages and household incomes and it strongly impacts government revenues and the deficit.

There is a continuing debate about how much of this slowdown is real and how much it reflects the increasing inadequacy of our official measures. That debate has refocused attention on the shortcomings of the measures, the challenges – both conceptual and resource-related – that the statistical agencies confront and the need to keep pace with a rapidly evolving economy in which, for instance, a cell phone now doubles as a camera, a map, a radio, etc. More accurate measurement of productivity growth is important both to further better public understanding of what’s going on in the economy, and to guide policymakers as they shape policies to improve future living standards and evaluate the effects of past policies.

The Hutchins Center’s Productivity Measurement Initiative responds to the need and appetite for (a) examination and clarification of the concepts, purpose and relevance to policy debates of the “output” that comprises the numerator in the productivity measure, e.g. GDP vs welfare and (b) particular attention to the difficult measurement issues in rapidly changing, harder-to-measure and growing sectors of the economy, e.g. health care and information services.


PRODUCTIVITY MEASUREMENT Oversight panel

Ufuk Akcigit, University of Chicago

Martin Baily, Center on Regulation and Markets, Brookings

David Byrne, Federal Reserve Board

Carol Corrado, The Conference Board

Karen Dynan, Harvard and Peterson Institute for International Economics

Martin Fleming, IBM

Jan Hatzius, Goldman Sachs

Benjamin Jones, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Charles Jones, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

Mekala Krishnan, McKinsey Global Institute

Marshall Reinsdorf, International Monetary Fund

Robert Seamans, Stern School of Business, New York University

Louise Sheiner, Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, Brookings*

James Stock, Harvard Kennedy School*

David Wessel, Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, Brookings

Janet Yellen, Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, Brookings*

*Denotes panel co-chair


Publications

Productivity measurement in an age of multinational companies and new technologies (Read blog here »)
Authors: Finn Schuele, David Wessel (Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy, Brookings Institution) 

GDP as a measure of economic well-being (Read the full report here »)
Authors: Karen Dynan (Havrvard University and Peterson Institute for International Economics) and Louise Sheiner (Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy, Brookings Institution)

The measurement of output, prices, and productivity: What’s changed since the Boskin Commission? (Read the full report here »)
Author: Brent Moulton (formerly of BEA)

Measuring inflation: What’s changed over the past 20 years? What hasn’t? (Read blog here »)
Authors: Finn Schuele, David Wessel (Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy, Brookings Institution) 


QUESTIONS

All inquiries on the Initiative should be directed to David Wessel (DWessel@brookings.edu) and Louise Sheiner (LSheiner@brookings.edu).

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