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Why Aren't We More Productive?


Advances in technology have driven eye-popping advances in productivity over the last hundred years. As machines have replaced artisans, individual humans have gone from making a single item every so often to producing hundreds of lamps or chocolate bars or T-shirts every hour.

Since the 1940s, productivity in the U.S. has been on a tear. Until about ten years ago, when it slowed to a crawl. Which is odd, because about ten years ago was when we really began to embrace computing technology and the internet. You might have thought these advances would make us more productive, but the data says they haven't. It's something of a mystery.

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