Workplace Issues Highlighted in Competitiveness Report

The report delivered to Congress by Commerce Secretary John Bryson says continued R&D funding is vital to allow America to "out compete" the rest of the world. Six "alarms" for the U.S. economy include slow employment growth, stagnant wages, and concerns about U.S. education.

A 160-page report sent to Congress on Jan. 6 by Commerce Secretary John Bryson assesses America's competitiveness and innovative capacity when measured against the rest of the world. It discusses the reasons for U.S. leadership in these areas during the 20th century –- notably investing in science, a better-educated and longer-living population than those of other countries, the personal computer boom, and the interstate highway system. Interestingly, workplace issues dominate the department's "6 Alarms for the U.S. Economy" graphic accompanying the report.

The six are slow recent employment growth –- although the Jan. 6 report was stronger than expected, raising confidence hiring at last is gaining speed -– along with stagnant wages, manufacturing lost to overseas competitors, scientific and technical investments abroad that erode the U.S. leads there, broadband infrastructure that is not nationally uniform, and "endemic" concerns about U.S. education as U.S. students' test scores fall behind those of their international counterparts.

The report's final chapter recommends and discusses five actions to foster a good environment for private-sector innovation -- support regional clusters, accelerate high‐growth entrepreneurship through Startup America's public- and private-sector initiatives, promote exports and access to foreign markets, restructure corporate taxes, and provide an effective intellectual property system.

The report discusses the U.S. technological, medical, scientific, and educational achievements of the 20th century and ties them to real income growth that saw 34 states achieve growth of more than 150 percent from 1963 to 2008, according to Commerce. Productivity in America is at an all-time high, but it is imperative to maintain funding of innovative research and development in order to continue to "out compete" the rest of the world, the report says.

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