The President has vowed to get economic growth back above 3% after the dreary slow recovery of the Obama “new normal.” What’s as sweet as the faster growth last quarter is the way it was achieved—with less spending by state and local governments but more consumer spending and rising business investment.
This last part is especially important. Lackluster business investment was a hallmark of the Obama era. And who could blame executives for being reluctant to pull the trigger on new plants and equipment? It was impossible to know what new intervention in the private economy regulators were dreaming up in Washington. When businesses don’t invest in new tools, workers have a hard time becoming more productive, which in turn means workers can’t demand higher pay.
U.S. worker productivity picked up modestly in the second quarter but showed little sign of breaking out of the sluggish trend that has prevailed for more than a decade, holding back economic growth and living standards. The lethargic pace of productivity growth seen in recent years could have a critical effect on the future trajectory of wages, prices, overall economic output and government budget balances. . . . “If labor productivity grows an average of 2% per year, average living standards for our children’s generation will be twice what we experienced,” Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said in a July speech. “If labor productivity grows an average of 1% per year, the difference is dramatic: Living standards will take two generations to double.”
Employers across the U.S. had a record 6.2 million job openings posted at the end of June, a sign that employers are hungry for new workers. The number of job openings climbed by 417,000 in June for private employers and by 44,000 for government postings, which include state and local government, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, known as Jolts.
The U.S. entered the ninth year of economic expansion on a familiar path of steady but unspectacular growth, with few obvious indications it is near exhausting itself. Gross domestic product, a broad measure of goods and services produced in the U.S., rose at a 2.6% annual rate in the April to June period, the Commerce Department said Friday. Figures are adjusted for inflation and seasonality.
California's economic pulse barely registered in the first quarter of 2017, increasing just 0.1 percent, according to a new report released Tuesday from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. California trailed every state west of the Rockies with the exception of Hawaii, which saw a decline of 0.9 percent in state GDP.