Long live the labour shortages

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Coronavirus economic impact updates

The pandemic devastated rich countries’ economies. But there are signs that a productivity boom could be emerging from the wasteland. 

Economists at The Conference Board, a US think-tank, suggest this is the case. Ataman Ozyildirim and Klaas de Vries forecast that after the downturn in 2020, the US economy will rack up total factor productivity growth of more than 2 per cent in 2021. TFP is measured by growth in output over and above that which can be attributed simply to putting more labour and capital to work in the post-lockdown recovery.

A 2 per cent rate, if realised, would more than make up for a slight loss of TFP in 2020 — a natural consequence of leaving capital such as machinery idle — and constitute a vast improvement on the roughly zero rate of yearly US TFP growth in the pre-pandemic…

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