In a new Chicago Fed Letter , Chicago Fed Economists Jake Fabina and Mark L. J. Wright try to make sense of the reduction of the rate of growth in productivity in the U.S. and other advanced economies. Take a look at the trend: From Fabina and Wright: Figure 1 plots Fernald’s measure of the level of multifactor productivity of the U.S. business sector (i.e., excluding general government and household production) quarterly from 1973 to 2012. The data are scaled so as to equal 100 in 1973:Q1. The figure identifies four distinct periods of productivity growth. The first is the ten years beginning in 1973, which corresponds to the wellknown productivity slowdown of the 1970s. This was succeeded by a period of modest growth of productivity that continued into the mid-1990s. In the third period, multifactor productivity growth increased again to 1.7% per year. The fourth and final period shows a dramatic decline in the rate of growth of multifactor productivity to about 0.5% per year. This period begins somewhere around 2004, in advance of the Great Recession. The Great Recession is associated with a large temporary drop in the level of multifactor productivity, reflecting the fact that both labor and capital were underutilized during the recession. In asking the big question, "Where has all the productivity growth gone?" Fabina and Wright lay out a series of other questions that are helpful in understanding all the key variables to productivity: It is possible that the current slowdown is a short-term aberration, and that as the advanced economies emerge from this period of economic crisis, fasterproductivity growth will also reemerge. If not, then it is tempting to revisit explanations that were proposed for the 1970s productivity slowdown. Is it perhaps simply a problem of measurement related to the increasing share of the economy devoted to services—in particular, business and financial services— for which it is difficult to measure output (and, hence, productivity)? Or is it perhaps due to a more widespread problem with the measurement of intangible investments (see, e.g., Aizcorbe, Moylan, and Robbins, 2009)? Alternatively, might it be due to the exhaustion of the gains from the information technology revolution? Or to declines in the quality of education and, hence, the quality of the labor force? Or even to declines in government investments in infrastructure? Depending on the answer, slow measured productivity growth may be consistent with continued rising living standards or a period of stagnation in the developed world. Read Where has all the productivity growth gone? here .