Unlocking the Long-Term Growth of the U.S. Economy


Last updated: June 24, 2024

robot_looking_at_cameraIn the fast-paced world of economics, looking beyond the next quarter is crucial. The future of the U.S. economy hinges on its long-term growth potential—an intricate balance of workforce expansion and productivity gains.

Small fluctuations in GDP growth over time can spell the difference between prosperity and hardship, impacting everything from job availability to the government’s ability to manage debt.

Think of the economy’s growth rate as a speed limit. It’s the fastest pace at which growth can occur without triggering inflation, creating an environment where jobs are plentiful, incomes rise, and prices remain stable. This sweet spot is what the Federal Reserve continually seeks.

The growth rate hinges on two key factors: workforce expansion and productivity. More workers and higher business output per worker drive economic growth.

Rapidly growing populations boost GDP through sheer numbers, while aging nations rely on increased productivity. Ideally, both elements work in tandem.

Workforce growth is relatively predictable. We know birth rates, average lifespans, and retirement ages. Currently, the U.S. labor pool is increasing by about 0.5% annually, a decline from 0.7% pre-pandemic.

This rate is projected to fall further, reaching 0.4% by the end of the decade and 0.2% by 2045. Even with fluctuating immigration policies, the downturn in domestic birthrates appears entrenched.

Productivity, on the other hand, is harder to forecast but holds promise. For the past 15 years, output per worker has risen by 1.5% annually. The pandemic’s push towards remote work and online sales likely spurred efficiency gains that continue to unfold.

Innovations like videoconferencing and hybrid retail models have streamlined operations, hinting at sustained productivity growth.

Boosting productivity is essential to elevate GDP growth from its current 2% to healthier levels, especially as the labor force grows minimally post-pandemic. Historically, productivity surged with higher education levels and technological advancements, such as the internet boom in the 1990s.

Today, artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to be this decade’s game-changer, akin to the digital revolution. While AI’s full impact will take time to materialize, its potential to enhance efficiency across various sectors is already evident.

AI-driven improvements in software development, administrative tasks, and customer support showcase early productivity boosts, foreshadowing broader economic benefits.

Remote work, a pandemic-era innovation, also holds potential. Although not suitable for all jobs, it has enabled more people, particularly mothers, to balance work and childcare.

This shift has increased female workforce participation, contributing to labor force growth despite population slowdowns.

Understanding the practical implications of economic growth is vital. A consistent 3% growth rate, for instance, makes national debt more manageable.

With the debt currently at 99% of GDP and projected to hit 109% by 2030, achieving 3% annual growth from 2025 onwards could reduce this burden significantly. Moreover, a fast-growing economy fosters job creation and consumer confidence, reminiscent of the robust 1990s.

In essence, long-term economic growth requires a blend of innovation and strategic workforce management. By harnessing technological advancements and fostering a dynamic labor market, the U.S. can pave the way for sustained prosperity and fiscal stability.

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About The Author

Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Jon Morgan, MBA, LLM, has over ten years of experience growing startups and currently serves as CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Venture Smarter. Educated at UC Davis and Harvard, he offers deeply informed guidance. Beyond work, he enjoys spending time with family, his poodle Sophie, and learning Spanish.
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Growth & Transition Advisor
LJ Viveros has 40 years of experience in founding and scaling businesses, including a significant sale to Logitech. He has led Market Solutions LLC since 1999, focusing on strategic transitions for global brands. A graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Communications, LJ is also a distinguished Matsushita Executive alumnus.
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