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U.S. Productivity Increases for 2008, Bucks Global Trend

Despite a slowdown in world productivity in 2008, output per hour in the United States increased, according to a report from The Conference Board. The group says U.S. productivity - a  measure of workers' collective output per hour - rose by 1.7 percent last year, a 0.2 percent increase over 2007's figure. Worldwide productivity rose only 2.3 percent, a decrease of 1.4 percent over 2007. The group attributes the increase in U.S. output to rapid layoffs and higher productivity among the remaining workers. "This will provide an opportunity for improved competitiveness of U.S. firms when the recovery starts," says Bart van Ark, The Conference Board's vice president and chief economist. The report further suggests that innovation remains a crucial factor in growth and recovery but that it requires a continued investment in capital and labor rather than continuing job cuts. The Conference Board says that Brazil saw strong productivity growth in 2008 but China and the European Union had deep declines, and predicts that European productivity growth will come to a complete halt in 2009.

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