The New Economy of the United States: A New Mode of Production?

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Hepler, Bradford Boyd
Landry, Bart
In the past several years, academics, journalists, federal regulators and business gurus have been writing about the development of a New Economy in the United States. According to New Economy supporters, the recent technological developments in information technology and the expansion of globalization are changing the economy, producing increases in productivity, and creating economic growth. However, critics of the New Economy have emerged who argued against the veracity of the claims of New Economy supporters. A debate about the existence of a New Economy has ensued with supporters of the New Economy noting new changes and phenomena in the economy and critics expressing skepticism about either the existence of a New Economy or the claims of New Economy supporters. I endorse the view that there is a New Economy because the recent revolution in information technology can be seen as a new mode of production, where workers utilize computers in the performance of job tasks at work. However, the adoption and utilization of the computer varies by industry and thus adoption of a New Economy is also expected to vary by industry. I will use the October 1984, October 1989, October 1993, October 1997, and September 2001 Current Population Surveys to test my hypothesis that a new mode of production has been adopted by examining computer usage within the six major industries of the economy. By 2001, computer usage had become dominant in the industries of 'Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate,' 'Wholesale Trade,' 'Manufacturing,' 'Communications and Public Utilities,' and certain sectors of the 'Service' economy, which is a strong sign that a New Economy had been adopted in these industries by 2001.