Although the U.S. has recovered nicely from the great recession, the economic growth rate must rise, Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome H. Powell said Thursday.

“Although job growth has been strong, gross domestic product has increased only about 2% annually since the crisis, held down by the weakest sustained period of labor productivity growth since World War II,” Powell told the Global Finance Forum, according to prepared remarks released by the Fed.

Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome H. Powell.
Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome H. Powell. Bloomberg News

“We need a national focus on increasing the sustainable growth rate of our economy,” he said. “That means investing in our workforce to give them the skills and aptitudes they need to compete in the global economy. It means policies that reward work, and policies that support investment and research. For the most part, these policies are not in the purview of the Federal Reserve.”

He also noted that labor productivity, which has grown 0.5% a year since 2011, compared to about a 2% average since World War II, “has profound implications for our national well-being. This slowdown is a worldwide phenomenon, so it is likely that there are global forces at work. The slowdown has been associated with weak investment and a decline in output gains from technological innovation.”

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