《经济学人》:美国的生产率增长还能持续多久?
日期:2012-01-16 10:48

(单词翻译:单击)

EVERYONE complains that corporate America is reluctant to hire additional workers. Far less attention has been paid to the flip side of the jobless recovery: the remarkable improvement in American productivity. How long can this continue? I see no limit, says William Hickey, the boss of Sealed Air, a packaging-maker. Is he right to be so optimistic?
企业不愿再增加雇佣量在美国引起民怨沸腾。但很少有人关注减少失业率的有效途径:显著提升美国的劳动生产率水平。这种提升能持续多久?包装材料制造商宝廷的老总William Hickey 说:依我看来可无限期提升。他的这种乐观估计是对还是错?

American firms were slow to react to the downturn at the beginning of the century, and paid the price. They learned their lesson. When the economy slumped in 2008, they were much quicker to adjust. There was little of the fall in labour productivity that normally accompanies a recession, and this was not just a one-off batting average effect (in which average productivity rises because the worst performers are fired). Rather, it was a productivity boost that has continued in defiance of expert predictions that workers can only be squeezed so hard for a short while.
新世纪之初,美国企业在应对经济衰退时反应迟钝,并为此付出了代价。它们吸取了教训,更快地适应了2008年的经济大萧条,且劳动生产率也没有如往常随经济衰退而下降。这不只是一次性实现的棒球击球率效应(即平均分因得分最低的选手被淘汰而提升)。专家们认为这是一种依靠压榨产业工人在短时期内维持的经济增长模式。然而恰恰相反,这种增长是靠全力提升劳动生产率实现的。

After falling in the first half of the year, American labour productivity (output per hour) was 2.3% higher in the third quarter of 2011 than in the same period a year earlier. This was the fastest quarterly rise in 18 months. Manufacturing productivity in that quarter rose by 2.9% compared with a year earlier. America’s productivity growth has been more robust than most other rich countries’—a feat many ascribe to its flexible labour market and a culture of enterprise.
经历了上半年的下降后,2011年第三季度美国的劳动生产率(每小时产量)同比增长了2.3%,这是18个月内最快的季度性增长。该季度制造业生产率同比增长了2.9%。美国的生产率比绝大多数发达国家增长得更为强劲——许多人将这一成就归功于美国灵活的劳动力市场机制和特有的企业文化。

Yet some analysts expect productivity growth to stall soon. Hard-pressed workers are feeling grouchy: workforce surveys report record levels of job dissatisfaction. Many firms have been starving the organisation to see how it can do with a lower cost structure, says Carsten Stendevad of Citigroup, a bank. Unless the economy picks up, he predicts that productivity growth will slow in 2012. (He admits, however, that he wrongly predicted the same thing would happen in 2011.)
但有些分析师认为生产率不久将停止增长。重重压力令产业工人们牢骚不断:劳动力调查显示出对工作表示不满的人数创了纪录。Citigroup银行的Carsten Stendevad说,很多公司正忍饥挨饿,以 测试自身在低成本状态下的生存能力。他预计,只要经济形势没有好转,2012年生产率增长就会放缓(但他也承认自己曾错误地对2011年的情况做过同样的判断)。

Two things could keep productivity rising. First, workers are terrified of losing their jobs. This makes it easier to persuade them to put in extra hours or shoulder new tasks. Even in unionised firms, there have been reports of greater flexibility. Workers have been staying on the job longer rather than featherbedding their hours by, for example, queuing up early to clock off as soon as the shift ends.
有两个因素能使生产率持续增长。其一,工人们害怕失业,这使得鼓励他们加班或干其它的活变得更加容易。据媒体报道,即使企业里有工会,维权活动仍更具弹性。工人们将更多的时间用于工作,而不是一到换班时间便早早排队下班等浪费行为。

分享到
重点单词
  • remarkableadj. 显著的,异常的,非凡的,值得注意的
  • ascribev. 归因于,归咎于
  • persuadevt. 说服,劝说
  • reactvt. 作出反应 vi. 起反应,起作用,反攻
  • shouldern. 肩膀,肩部 v. 扛,肩负,承担,(用肩)推挤
  • recoveryn. 恢复,复原,痊愈
  • additionaladj. 附加的,另外的
  • shiftn. 交换,变化,移动,接班者 v. 更替,移转,变声
  • productivityn. 生产率,生产能力
  • optimisticadj. 乐观的,乐观主义的