These days talk about taxes of any kind, unless cuts are being proposed, is the third rail of American politics. Many business people and of course doctrinaire conservatives insist that lower tax rates create more incentives for investment, business formation and economic growth. Tax cuts, they continue, are thus a key mechanism for spurring economic growth. Though we haven’t seen much of the Laffer Curve since the heyday of Reaganism, a new generation of supply-siders is arguing for more tax cuts despite our already-staggering deficits.
Posts Tagged ‘productivity’
The conventional wisdom presumes that growing populations bring economic growth. But what drives wealth isn’t how many people a place is adding, but how much more productive its workers are becoming. Yesterday, I showed that population growth and productivity growth are unrelated on the level of states. Today, drawing on my ongoing research with Kevin Stolarick of the Martin Prosperity Institute and Jose Lobo of Arizona State University, I’ll take a look at the pattern for 350 plus U.S. metro areas. The disconnect is even more pronounced.
This past weekend, I had an oped in the New York Daily News about the widespread fallacy that population growth and prosperity go hand in hand.
Yes, the Sunbelt is growing and the Frostbelt declining. That decades old meme was confirmed by the earliest releases of the new 2010 Census. “The quest for mild winters remains the great constant of American demographics,” wrote Walter Shapiro in a piece headlined “The Census Ratifies the Sunbelt’s Supremacy and Buoys the GOP. “For the first time in history, more than half of the nation’s population (308,745,538) resides either in the South or in the warm-weather states of California, Arizona and New Mexico.”
But are those states that are adding people also growing economically? Not so much, actually.
Here’s the abstract from a new paper by Ed Glaeser and Matthew G. Resseger (thanks to David Ptak for the pointer).
There is a strong connection between per worker productivity and metropolitan area population, which is commonly interpreted as evidence for the existence of agglomeration economies. This correlation is particularly strong in cities with higher levels of skill and virtually non-existent in less skilled metropolitan areas. This fact is particularly compatible with the view that urban density is important because proximity spreads knowledge, which either makes workers more skilled or entrepreneurs more productive. Bigger cities certainly attract more skilled workers, and there is some evidence suggesting that human capital accumulates more quickly in urban areas.
Full text is here.
The workplace design firm Gensler not only works with companies to create more efficient workspaces, they also have been working on methodologies for measuring their impacts on corporate needs.
Back in March 2006, with the help of professional survey firm D/R Added Value, they polled over 2,000 office workers (selected from a pool of over 8,000 to achieve a representative sample) about their workplaces. Here are some results:
Workplace and empowering creativity:
- 90% of American workers believe that workplace design affects their productivity
- 50% of workers say their current office environment empowers them to innovate
- 49% of workers said that they would work an extra hour per day if they had a better work environment
- 33% say workplace improvements are a priority at their company
- The average office worker feels he or she has less time to think than they did five years ago
Where and how people work effectively:
- 84% of employees say they accomplish their best work at the office
- 12% of workers say they do their best work at home
- 67% said they were more efficient at developing ideas when collaborating closely with co-workers
- 80% of workers feel technology has enhanced their workplace environment (including desktop computers, mobile phones, video conferencing, wireless access, and mobile e-mail devices)
Who works in offices and what do they do all day (in this survey):
- 42 years old is the average age of an office worker
- 6.3 years is the average time they have been at their job
- 210 is the average number of employees a person works with in the same office
- 13% was the average amount of work time spent answering e-mail
- 14% was the average amount of time spent on the phone
- 20% was the time spent in meetings
While this survey was likely biased toward larger companies, the results offer useful insight into workplaces generally, but especially for the larger companies.
The data that I found most provocative was that while 90% of people feel their workplace is important to their productivity, only 33% see this as a priority at their company.
Could there be a lot of lost productivity from poor or anachronistic office design?
Does your workplace enhance or hamper your productivity?