(p. A2) After a decadelong drought, worker productivity might be about to accelerate thanks to pandemic-induced technological adoption, which could lift economic growth and wages in coming years while staving off inflation pressure.
. . .
Robert Gordon, a professor at Northwestern University who has studied productivity and living standards during the past century, said productivity growth slowed after 2005 because the payoff from computers faded and new inventions such as smartphones and tablets didn’t revolutionize business operations. In 2015 he had predicted productivity growth of only 1.5% a year over the next 25 years. Recent developments have made him more optimistic, and he expects annual productivity growth of about 1.8% this decade.
A shift toward e-commerce should push up productivity by eliminating workers needed in bricks-and-mortar stores, Mr. Gordon said. Videoconferencing should also help, though the public-transit sector could offset some of the gains because buses and rail transit will carry fewer riders, he said.
. . .
Remote work could deliver a one-time 4.7% lift to productivity after the pandemic, though a large share of the growth will stem from shortened commutes that government productivity data won’t fully capture, according to a working paper from Stanford University’s Nicholas Bloom and co-authors.
For the full commentary, see:
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date April 4, 2021, and has the title “U.S.’s Long Drought in Worker Productivity Could Be Ending.”)
Gordon’s pessimistic old views were most fully expressed in his much-discussed:
Gordon, Robert J. The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016.
The working paper co-authored by Bloom is: