Washington All those computers, car phones and other efficiency-enhancing gizmos are finally paying off. U.S. productivity grew robustly in 1997 for the second consecutive year.
The 1.7 percent advance in output per hour of work at nonfarm businesses, on top of a 1.9 percent increase in 1996, explains why Americans were able to have their economic cake and eat it too, enjoying fast growth with declining inflation.
The new numbers, from the Labor Department, came as the Clinton administration declared in its annual economic report to Congress that the United States is well-equipped to weather the aftermath of Asian financial storms.
The economy's growth in 1997, 3.9 percent, was the strongest in nine years; the unemployment rate, 4.9 percent, the lowest in 24 years, and inflation, 1.7 percent, the best in 11 years.