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Is the Information Technology Revolution Over?

David Byrne, Stephen D. Oliner () and Daniel Sichel ()

International Productivity Monitor, 2013, vol. 25, 20-36

Abstract: Given the slowdown in labour productivity growth in the mid-2000s, some have argued that the boost to labour productivity from IT may have run its course. This article contributes three types of evidence to this debate. First, we show that since 2004 IT has continued to make a significant contribution to U.S. labour productivity growth, though it is no longer providing the boost that it did during the productivity resurgence from 1995 to 2004. Second, we present evidence that semiconductor technology, a key ingredient of the IT revolution, has continued to advance at a rapid pace. Finally, we develop projections of growth in trend labour productivity in the U.S. non-farm business sector. The baseline projection of about 1¾ per cent a year is better than recent history but is still below the long-run average of 2¼ per cent. However, we see a reasonable prospect — particularly given the ongoing advance in semiconductors — that the pace of labour productivity growth could rise back up to the long-run average. While the evidence is far from conclusive, we judge that "No, the IT revolution is not over."

Date: 2013
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