Friday, 19 February 2010

Read the figures carefully

US productivity figures for the last quarter of 2009 look great ... but typically at the end of a recession, output grows before hiring does. This corrects itself and productivity takes an apprarent nosedive soon after. This is where the US is now.

Critics will say that Obama is not in control and is letting the recovery falter ... but it is just the way of the world. If output is still going up (and it will be) then the productivity figures will catch up.

So why measure productivity? Because over the longer-term it is a much more reliable measure of well-being - and future well- being - than simply measuring output. After all we all know that you can make lots of stuff and make no money.

So we have to accept the imperfections of measurement and filter the numbers through our common sense. Now if only journalists and politicians would do the same!

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