2018 OECD Economic Surveys: United States 2018

image of OECD Economic Surveys: United States 2018

The current expansion in the United States is one of the longest on record. Economic growth since the financial crisis has also been amongst the strongest in the OECD. Robust job growth has helped bring people into employment and reduce the unemployment rate. Partly as a result, material wellbeing is high and Americans are doing well on average in comparison with residents of other OECD counties. The near-term outlook for growth is strong, partly as a result of substantial fiscal stimulus. In the longer run, improving the business environment would help sustain growth, by reanimating firm creation and productivity growth. Labour force participation rates of prime age workers are relativley low and have only recently begun to recover from the decline after the crisis. Job losses have become more persistent in areas hit by adverse structural shocks, contributing to the decline in participation. In addition, changing jobs has become more difficult over time, which is a concern with the potential for automation and globalisation to disrupt local labour markets. Labour market participation is also adversely affected by opioid addiction, which also costs many lives, harms livelihoods and entails significant public healthcare spending.


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Addressing labour-market disruptions from trade and automation

The US labour market has been exposed to repeated disruptions in the past two decades, and a wave of change stemming from the rise of automation is looming large. Although unemployment is at an historical low, many displaced workers remain inactive and wages have been stagnant for occupation affected by these disruptions. The upcoming automation of tasks with robots, artificial intelligence and machine learning will bring many benefits, but it will also lead to employment losses and wage pressures for workers whose tasks will be automated. While the US labour market had traditionally the capacity to absorb these shocks, labour market fluidity has slowed in the past two decades, hindering the reallocation of labour and contributing to high unemployment and weak participation, with some locations particularly affected by these social troubles. Lessons from these past trends are helpful to formulate future policies helping improving opportunities for displaced workers.



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