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March 24, 2004
Citigroup Exec: Blame Lack of New Jobs on Higher Productivity

It's not outsourcing to Asia that's holding back job creation in the U.S.--it's the growing productivity of those Americans who hold jobs, according to Stanley Fischer, vice chairman of Citigroup and president of Citigroup International.

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Fischer, who was first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund during the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, remarked during a seminar in Singapore on Thursday that cosensus forecasts call the U.S. economy to grow by about 4.5 percent this year. Productivity, he added, is expected to grow at the same rate.

"If you have growth of... around 4.5 percent and productivity growth around those rates, then you know what you don't have and that is extra jobs," he said.

"So the joblessness of the U.S. recovery is the flipside of the superb productivity performance," he said. He added, however, that productivity would head back towards its long-term rate of around 3 percent, although the timing was uncertain.

Fischer was speaking at a seminar held at the Singapore Management University, and his remarks were reported by the Reuters news agency.

"If you look at the role of outsourcing, you will see that the numbers don't add up to give outsourcing the role that it is receiving politically," Fischer said.

Based on past experience, he said, 3.5 million jobs should have sprung up in the last two years, as the U.S. economy emerged from recession. Outsourcing negated 800,000 of those jobs, but productivity gains were a greater restraining factor, he said.


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