OECD Economic Surveys: United States

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1999-0103 (online)
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OECD’s periodic surveys of the United States economy. Each edition surveys the major challenges faced by the country, evaluates the short-term outlook, and makes specific policy recommendations. Special chapters take a more detailed look at specific challenges. Extensive statistical information is included in charts and graphs.

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OECD Economic Surveys: United States 2016

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16 June 2016
9789264257948 (EPUB) ; 9789264257931 (PDF) ;9789264257924(print)

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This 2016 OECD Economic Survey of the United States examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. The special chapters cover: Private sector productivity and Making growth more inclusive.

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  • Basic Statistics of United States, 2015 or latest year available

    This Survey is published on the responsibility of the Economic and Development Review Committee of the OECD, which is charged with the examination of the economic situation of member countries.The economic situation and policies of the United States were reviewed by the Committee on 19 May 2016. The draft report was then revised in the light of the discussions and given final approval as the agreed report of the whole Committee on 2nd June 2016.The Secretariat’s draft report was prepared for the Committee by Douglas Sutherland and Jonathan Millar, under the supervision of Patrick Lenain. Statistical research was provided by Damien Azzopardi and Mabel Gabriel with general administrative support provided by Raquel Páramo. The previous Survey of the United States was issued in June 2014.Information about the latest as well as previous Surveys and more information about how Surveys are prepared is available at www.oecd.org/eco/surveys.

  • Executive summary

    Seven years after the financial crisis, the US economy has rebounded : output has surpassed its pre-crisis peak by 10%, robust private-sector employment gains have sharply reduced unemployment, fiscal sustainability has been largely restored and corporate profits are high. The short-term outlook is for further growth near potential (albeit crisis-reduced at about 2%), where well-designed investments in infrastructure, skills and green growth would contribute to a more robust and sustainable expansion.

  • Assessment and recommendations

    Seven years after the financial crisis, the United States is making a comeback. The US economic recovery, while modest by historical standards, has been one of the strongest in the OECD, thanks to robust monetary policy support and an early fiscal expansion. Many private-sector jobs have been created, pushing unemployment down to its pre-crisis level, thereby providing consumers with higher income and improving their confidence. Further economic growth at a pace near 2% a year is likely in the short term, while a new recession is a low-probability prospect in the current environment. But a number of long-term challenges remain unresolved. In particular, the slowdown of productivity growth already apparent since the mid-2000s has continued in recent years. Faster productivity growth – supported by well-designed investments in innovation, infrastructure, skills and inclusiveness – would help to address future challenges such as rising income inequality, population ageing and fiscal sustainability.

  • Progress in structural reform

    The objective of this Annex is to review action taken since the previous Survey (June 2014) on the main recommendations from previous Surveys.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Thematic chapters

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    • Unleashing private sector productivity

      Productivity growth has been sluggish since the Great Recession and had been slowing before it. This slowdown has touched nearly every industry. Although part the slowdown may be related to weakness of investment related to the slow recovery of aggregate demand, structural issues also appear to be playing a role, including persistent declines in business dynamism (market entry and exit of firms) and signs of diminishing competitive pressures. Historically, young productive firms have been an important source of productivity growth, but start-up rates have been slowing for some time and have been especially low in the aftermath of the crisis, and failure rates of new firms have risen. This diminished dynamism appears to be associated with other trends such as population ageing, funding difficulties, reforms in 2005 to the personal bankruptcy code that made debt discharge more difficult, intellectual property rights that favour some established companies, the spread of state-level occupational licensing requirements, as well as zoning and land use restrictions that inhibit resources from flowing to their most productive use. There are also signs that market power is gradually intensifying on balance, restraining competitive forces that would otherwise translate productivity gains into broad-based improvements in household purchasing power.

    • Realising and expanding opportunities

      Measures that enable the acquisition of new skills and reduce mismatches between the demand and supply of existing skills can boost US economic growth and make its benefits more inclusive. Although overall schooling performance has generally improved over time, many disadvantaged students still fail to achieve basic numeracy and literacy. Many parents are denied the opportunity to make their most productive contribution to the economy due to a lack of paid parental leave provisions, publicly-funded childcare and early-childhood education. Discrimination against individuals on the basis of race and gender or those with criminal records can also create barriers to opportunity. Some geographic areas of the country are performing very well, while others are being held back by governance structures that are ill-equipped to deal with economic, social, and environmental challenges. Getting the right policies and infrastructure in place in a timely manner can expand opportunity in these areas.

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