Washington – The gap in productivity growth between the United States and Europe widened sharply as U.S. businesses were more aggressive in laying off workers and pushing their remaining employees to be more efficient, according to a business research group.
In a new report, the Conference Board estimated that productivity – the amount of output per hour of work – rose in the United States by 2.5 percent in 2009 while productivity was falling by 1 percent on average in the euro area, the 16 European nations that use the euro currency.
The Conference Board said in a report to be released today that the gap would narrow in the current year but the United States would still outperform much of the euro area. Conference Board economists forecast that productivity would strengthen to 3 percent growth in the United States in 2010 and return to positive growth of 2 percent in the euro area.
Cribs recalled after death
Washington – A Barbados-based company on Tuesday recalled about 635,000 cribs sold by Kmart, Sears, Wal-Mart and other stores after the death of a 6-month-old boy and multiple reports of injuries.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of 20 models of Dorel Asia cribs with both drop sides and fixed front rails.
Some of the Chinese- and Vietnamese-made cribs were recalled because their drop sides can detach, creating a space where a child can be trapped and suffocate or strangle.
To receive a free repair kit to prevent this hazard, contact Dorel Asia at (866 762-2304. More information is available online at www.dorel-asia.com.
Uptick expected in home sales
Las Vegas – Home builders, mired in their deepest slump since the Great Depression, are likely to see a rebound in sales in 2010 as stabilizing home prices and record-high affordability conditions draw buyers into the market, the chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders said here Tuesday.
“The stage is set for the consumer to return,” said David Crowe. “It won’t be a strong recovery, but it will be a recovery.”
Crowe predicts that housing starts will rise more than 25 percent in 2010, to 700,000 units, from 550,000 in 2009. Low interest rates will continue to help the housing industry: Even though they are expected to rise, the 30-year mortgage – now just above 5 percent – will stay below 6 percent through the year, predicted Frank Nothaft, chief economist for mortgage agency Freddie Mac.
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