Les Racines fragiles de la croissance industrielle

Quelle est la rapidité de la croissance de l'économie américaine ? Des investisseurs avisés parient maintenant que les données économiques les plus récentes afficheront un taux de croissance du PIB annuel de 3% pour le deuxième trimestre 2003. Ils espèrent également que le troisième trimestre en cours pourra aussi afficher un taux de croissance avoisinant les 5% annuels. Juillet a vu la production industrielle américaine grimper d'un demi-point, au moment où Intel, le célèbre fabricant de puces électroniques, parle d'une forte croissance de la demande pour sa gamme de produits phares, suggérant ainsi que les dépenses d'investissements industriels reprennent enfin.

Bien que l'économie japonaise continue de stagner, et que l'Europe occidentale soit au bord de la récession, une reprise ferme de la croissance industrielle aux États-Unis devrait se montrer très bénéfique pour stimuler la demande dans les autres pays. Cependant ces bonnes nouvelles venues du monde des affaires américain sont accompagnées de mauvaises nouvelles sur le front de l'emploi. Les heures travaillées en Amérique ont chuté jusqu'à un taux annuel de 2,7% pour le deuxième trimestre. L'emploi, particulièrement dans l'industrie, a chuté en juillet. Il est fort probable que les heures travaillées continueront leur chute au cours du troisième trimestre.

Comment expliquer de tels écarts ? Comment l'Amérique peut-elle être le témoin d'une croissance industrielle raisonnablement rapide et d'une montée du chômage au même moment ? La réponse se trouve dans la tendance sous-jacente à la croissance industrielle de l'économie américaine qui continue d'être exceptionnellement positive. Le gain de 5,7% en productivité annuelle enregistré au deuxième trimestre sera probablement maintenu au troisième trimestre. Avec les ouvriers américains produisant plus en moins d'heures, il n'est pas surprenant que les (bonnes) nouvelles liées à la croissance industrielle s'opposent aux (mauvaises) nouvelles sur le front de l'emploi.

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