World Economic Forum report: Global productivity growth 'still sluggish'
Investment in skills and technology can boost productivity (Credit: VCG)

Investment in skills and technology can boost productivity (Credit: VCG)

The global economy continues to suffer low productivity growth, according to the latest Global Competitiveness Report from the World Economic Forum.

The study benchmarks performance against a series of measures including infrastructure, skills, healthcare, the labor market, business dynamism and innovation capability.

It noted that the $10 trillion of fiscal stimulus invested since the 2008 global financial crisis had helped to avoid a deeper recession but productivity growth remains slow – and urged more effort to boost research and development, as well as more investment in workers' skills. 

The annual league table, for the year to April 2019, shows Singapore has overtaken the US at the top: 

In Europe, the Netherlands moved into the top slot, ahead of Switzerland and Germany, which fell backwards from 2018.

East Asia and the Pacific was the most competitive region, followed by Europe and the Pacific.

The report warned of a "global competitiveness gap" and said the "changing geopolitical context and rising trade tensions are fueling uncertainty and could precipitate a slowdown."

"What is of greatest concern today is the reduced ability of governments and central banks to use monetary policy to stimulate economic growth," said Saadia Zahidi, from the World Economic Forum's Centre for the New Economy and Society.

"This makes it all the more important that competitiveness-enhancing policies are adopted that are able to boost productivity, encourage social mobility and reduce income inequality," she added.

The report also suggested a growing inequality in some areas, with business leaders in China, the US, Germany, France and the UK all believing that market power for leading firms has intensified over the past 10 years.

The World Economic Forum, which brings together political and business leaders, is based in Geneva, Switzerland. It began the annual survey in 1979. Full details can be found on its website.