The Growth of Unproductive Activities, the Rate of Profit, and the Phase-Change of the U.S. Economy
This paper by using the categories of productive and unproductive labor and by extending and further elaborating the data series utilized in Shaikh and Tonak (1994) reveals a sharp expansion of the unproductive activities in the U.S. economy during the period 1964-2007. The combination of growing productivity and the stagnant or even falling real wages of productive workers increased the rate of surplus value in the recent decades to unprecedented highs. As a consequence, the general rate of profit from the early 1980s onwards was also rising until the last years of our analysis; meanwhile the net rate of profit remained at levels much lower than those of the 1960s and the slightly rising trend during the post-1980s has been already reversed. The patterns of these crucial variables reveal startling similarities with the onset of the slowdown that started in the mid- to late 1960s.JEL classification: B5, E1, O51
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