Much has been made of the U.S. productivity slowdown, which began in the early 1970s. Productivity, or output per labor hour, grew at an average annual rate of about 2.3% from 1959 to 1973, but only around 0.8% from 1974 to 1993. The causes of this slowdown are unclear. Some economists point to the oil shock of 1973, measurement error, sectoral reallocation, and technological innovation due mainly to computers (since it takes time for workers to learn new techniques).
Suggested citation: “U.S. Productivity,” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Economic Trends, no. 96-11, pp. 13, 11.01.1996.