Editor’s note: The labels on the y-axis of the chart “Nonfarm Business Sector: Real Output per Hour of All Persons” have been corrected. (June 26, 2017, 11:56 a.m.)
A major economic concern is the ongoing sluggishness in the growth of output per worker hour, generally called labor productivity. In an arithmetic sense, the growth of the economy can be accounted for by the increase in hours worked plus that of labor productivity. With the unemployment rate now at a level widely regarded as near “full employment,” growth in hours worked is likely to be limited by demographic forces, most importantly the very limited expansion of the working-age population. If productivity growth also remains low, the sustainable pace of increase of real GDP will be limited and remain noticeably lower than historic norms.