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So Much For Declining U.S. Competitiveness

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Remember all the hand-wringing about how the faltering competitiveness of U.S. industry would create a nation of burger-flippers? Well, the skeptics may have to eat crow. The latest report of the industry-backed Council on Competitiveness "shows a number of areas where we've had real improvement," says Paul A. Allaire, CEO of Xerox Corp. and chairman of the council. In 1993, for instance, the bottom-line index for competitiveness--a country's standard of living--rose 1.9% in the U.S., compared with only 0.2% in Japan. Overall productivity climbed 1.5%, while Japan's dropped 0.1%. And investment in plants and equipment jumped 11.8%, compared with a plunge of 8.5% in Japan.

Not all the gloom has been swept away, though. An accompanying survey showed that CEOs, university presidents, and labor leaders believe--by a margin of 2 to 1--that America's most difficult competitiveness challenges are still ahead. Explains Allaire: "If we don't address longer-term issues like education and the low savings rate, we will not be able to sustain the improvement."EDITED BY OTIS PORT

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