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No Recovery: An Analysis of Long-Term U.S. Productivity Decline

U.S. economic growth is languishing below its pre-recession pace. A Gallup study, published in partnership with the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, finds that the problems go back much further. Learn why and what the long-term fix is.

We've been told that the economy is on its way back.

In the seven years since the Great Recession, job growth in the United States has been steady and unemployment has fallen from 10% to just under 5%. Booming tech and professional services sectors should denote a healthy economy and productivity growth, but a new Gallup analysis identifies fundamental weaknesses in the U.S. economy that have emerged over decades.

Productivity decline is the reality.

Economic growth has gradually fallen since the 1970s and 1980s, and three large sectors bear primary responsibility for the malaise: healthcare, housing and education. In 1980, healthcare, housing and education claimed 25% of national spending. By 2015, that share had ballooned to 36%. The costs to both national and per capita GDP are enormous.

As the costs of these services rise, the value they generate -- in terms of health, learning and shelter -- has stagnated or even declined. When the quality-to-cost ratio falls, living standards do as well.

Gallup's analysis, in collaboration with the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, presents the causes and effects of long-term U.S. declining productivity growth, and makes a case for a new growth strategy.

Annual growth rate in real GDP per capita over 10 year periods

self-reported health status fell for people aged

25 to 59

between 1990 and 2015


Share of total national spending on healthcare, housing and education in 2015, up from 25% in 1980


Share of income going to rent for a typical American family in 2014, up from 19% in 1980


Real per capita GDP growth per year from 2007 to 2015


Share of Americans surveyed by Gallup who say that now is a good time to find a "quality job"

The long-term impact of higher costs for healthcare, housing and education has been to dampen Americans' productivity, consumption, quality of life, ambitions and career choices.

No Recovery: An Analysis of Long-Term U.S. Productivity Decline is a report identifying the roadblocks to national economic recovery, detailing the damage brought by slow recovery and offering a new growth strategy.

Download the Full Report

Download this report to learn:

  • The scope of the U.S. productivity problem
  • Why growth is down
  • The key sectors dragging down growth
  • Possible indirect consequences of economic deterioration
  • What is causing economic deterioration
  • A new strategy for reviving growth