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August 8, 2003

productivity is not always good

Productivity rose in the second quarter at an annual rate of 5.7%, yet unemployment remained stubbornly high. Businesses did not increase spending on equipment, so their productivity gains didn't come from upgraded technology. Instead, I suspect, they squeezed more profits out of the workforce the old-fashioned way. Middle-managers, afraid of losing their own jobs, denied bathroom breaks to sales clerks. Benefits packages were subtly watered down. More socks were reshelved by fewer people at your neighborhood WalMart.

If the second quarter was a prelude to widespread economic growth that will soon benefit everyone, fine. But if it represents the new version of "growth," "productivity" and "recovery," who needs those things?

August 8, 2003 12:27 PM | category: revitalizing the left | Comments


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