The great productivity slowdown


Michael Roberts Blog

The productivity of labour is an important ingredient of the rate of real GDP growth.  What happens to productivity (output per worker or output per worker per hour) is important for mature capitalist economies because real GDP growth can be considered as made up of two components: productivity growth and employment growth.  The first shows the change in new value per worker employed and second shows the number of extra workers employed.

In mature economies, employment growth has been slowing for decades.  So faster productivity growth is necessary to compensate.  In Marxist terms, that means slowing growth in absolute value (and surplus value) must be replaced by faster growth in relative new value (or surplus value). See my post,
https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/productivity-deflation-and-depression/.

In the first quarter of 2015, US productivity fell at a 3.1% annual rate.  For all of 2014, productivity grew by a modest 0.7%, even less than the 0.9% productivity gain…

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