This increase surprised most analysts, and while practitioners of the dismal science rarely get excited, this certainly caught our attention. It is not an exaggeration to say that the rate of change in productivity levels is the most important statistic in macroeconomics.
It is no secret that the labor market across all sectors of the U.S. economy is tight. The total number of job openings is at a historically high level. It is so high that there is less than one unemployed person per job opening. This gap is the widest for jobs in the high-wage industries. So it is no surprise that total wages are rising at an accelerating rate.
The long-term outlook for plastic medical equipment and supplies are quite favorable. All the established demographic and technological trends spurring the market remain intact: The global population is aging, global access to medical care is expanding and rapid technological advances continue to bring new products and information to the market.
We will not sustain growth of 2.6 percent this year, but I expect the pace to stay just above 2 percent. The economic expansion will turn 10 years old this spring, and if this forecast is right, that will be about the time total production from U.S. manufacturers gets back to pre-recession levels.