Big Test Ahead For Productivity

It could be ripe for a fall

With first-quarter gross domestic product bursting out of the starting gate at an estimated 4.2% annual pace--and with price pressures still subdued--the thesis that the U.S. economy has entered a new era of strong, steady, inflation-free growth has never seemed more solid. Indeed, many forecasters believe that the expansion, which is already seven years old and counting, could well surpass the nine-year record chalked up in the 1960s.

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