Numerous studies have documented the rising dominance of large firms over the last few decades in many industrialized countries. Many research papers have focused on the potential negative effects of this increased market concentration, raising concerns about market power in both labor and product markets. In a new study, we investigate whether large firms also generate positive effects. Our research shows that large firms generate significant positive total factor productivity (TFP) spillovers to their domestic suppliers. To date, these types of spillovers have only been identified for multinational enterprises located in developing countries. Using firm-to-firm transaction data for an industrialized country, Belgium, we find that large domestic firms, as well as multinationals, generate positive TFP spillovers.
Though some offices have re-opened as the pandemic has receded, many workers have continued to work from home. Recent survey data suggest that workers would like more remote-work days than firms want to supply—a pattern that was evident even before the pandemic. Why have firms been so reluctant to offer remote work? And what will the recent seismic shift in remote work mean for the economy?
Job gains exceeded output growth in 2022, bringing GDP per worker back down to its trend level after being well above for an extended period. Employment is consequently set to grow slower than output going forward, as it typically does. Breaking down the GDP per worker by industry, though, shows a significant divergence between the services and goods-producing sectors. Productivity in the services sector was modestly above its pre-pandemic path at the end of last year, suggesting room for relatively strong employment growth, with the gap particularly large in the health care, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality sectors. Productivity in goods-producing industries, though, was depressed, implying that payroll growth is set to lag that sector’s GDP growth.
One of the current puzzles in economics is the recent worldwide slowdown in productivity, compared to the late 1990s and early 2000s. This productivity loss is economically large: if productivity growth had stayed at the same level as in 1995-2004, American GDP would have increased by trillions of dollars. In this post, I discuss a new paper that links this productivity slowdown to saturation in electronics adoption across most industries. I show that most of the productivity growth from electronic miniaturization is concentrated between 1985 and 2005.
U.S. oil and gas production boomed during the years leading up to the pandemic. From 2011 to 2019, oil production more than doubled and dry natural gas production rose by more than half. Remarkably, these gains occurred despite lackluster investment spending and hiring. Instead, higher production came largely from productivity gains, via wider adoption of fracking technologies. More recently, production recovered sluggishly from the pandemic downturn despite a quick recovery in prices. Our analysis in this post suggests that slower productivity growth and investors’ demand for higher returns have made U.S. firms willing to boost output only at a higher threshold oil price.
While the shocks from COVID-19 were concentrated in a handful of contact-intensive industries, they had rippling effects throughout the economy, which culminated in a considerable decline in U.S. GDP. In this post, we estimate how much of the fall in U.S. GDP during the pandemic was driven by spillover effects from the productivity losses of contact-intensive industries.