Jeb Bush, one of the leading Republican candidates for the presidency, is in the news again—and not in a good way. During a meeting with the editorial board of the New Hampshire Union Leader, he reportedlysaid the following:
“My aspiration for the country — and I believe we can achieve it — is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see…Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this rut that we’re in.”
There are so many delusional statements in this paragraph that one is hard-pressed to know how to make sense of it. First, the problem is not the productivity of the American workforce. The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) says that “Labor productivity measures output per hour of labor.”According to the chart below, the United States has the third highest productive work force among similarly advanced countries. Only Norway and Luxembourg have a more productive workforce than the U.S. among OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries.
If the American workforce is third in productivity among advanced economies, more productivity will not to solve the ills—wage stagnation being the biggest one—that beset the American workforce.