Productivity of American Workers Continues to Decline

October 6, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. decline / dɪˈklaɪn / (v.) – to go down
Example: If the economy declines, many people will lose their job.

2. fatigued / fəˈtigd / (adj.) – tired
Example: I’ve been feeling fatigued recently because of work.

3. outgrow / ˌaʊtˈgro/ (v.) – to leave something behind for something better, or because of maturity or old age
Example: We slowly outgrew using telephones when cellphones were invented.

4. compensate for / ˈkɒm pənˌseɪt fɔr / (idiom) – to make up for something
Example: She compensated for her absence with overtime work.

5. in the long run / ɪn ðn ln rʌn / (idiom) – after a long time or in the future
Example Taking a high-paying job even if you dislike it is unfavorable in the long run.


Read the text below.
Studies show that American workers are working harder, but they are less productive than before.

The productivity of American workers has been declining for three consecutive quarters. Economists consider this the fastest decline in the past three years.

Productivity is measured by the number of output per hour produced by a worker. Practically speaking, a decline in productivity means that the cost of labor and the work rendered are rising faster than the number of output. This implies that American workers are spending a lot of time at work, yet are creating less.

Studies show that factors affecting productivity are mostly related to the well-being of individuals. Productivity is affected if the worker is dissatisfied, fatigued, or worried about personal problems. However, according to an economist, this particular instance is due to employees having outgrown the technology they use at work.

Many businesses did well in the 90s because of the rise of the Internet and the introduction of other time-saving technologies. In contrast, no big innovation has been discovered in recent years. Economists believe that employers need to invest in more efficient equipment and facilities to boost employee productivity.

Ironically, companies have managed to add 500,000 new jobs last June and July. However,   it did not compensate for the overall lag in productivity. Rapid hiring that does not lead to productivity means further decline in company profits.

Lagging productivity lowers income and quality of life in the long run. In addition, if the US economy continues to weaken, the country’s trade with foreign countries will also decline.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How can employers increase worker productivity?
·         If you were an employer, would you increase the number of workers to ensure more output? Why?

Discussion B

·         Do you think technology increases productivity? Why or why not?
·         Do technological advancements make people hard-working or lazy? Why do you think so?

October 6, 2016