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.
The fiscal packages passed in 2020 and 2021 to help the economy cope with the pandemic caused a dramatic increase in federal government borrowing. One might have expected that foreign investors were important buyers of this new debt, but that was not the case. They were instead net sellers of Treasury securities. Still, the amount of money flowing into the United States increased last year, which helped fund the government’s borrowing, if only indirectly. The upturn in inflows, though, was quite modest as a surge in domestic personal saving largely covered the government’s heightened borrowing needs. How the reliance on foreign funds changes in 2021, when the government deficit will again be quite elevated, will depend on whether domestic personal saving remains high.