Business: The Productivity Pinch

Productivity underpins our economic strength, and our economic strength is now being eroded and questioned. The productivity slump is an American climacteric.

—C. Jackson Grayson Jr., chairman of the American Productivity Center

Like a man in his prime, American productivity had looked so robust, so deceptively healthy. From the end of World War II through the 1960s, it increased comfortably at an annual average of just over 3%. The first symptom of trouble struck in the 1970s, when gains started averaging half of that. They tumbled to 1.6% in 1977 and .4% in 1978. Now that most important measure of an economy's efficiency...

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