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OECD Economic Surveys: United States 2016

image of OECD Economic Surveys: United States 2016

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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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.

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