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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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U.S. Competitiveness Up, Ranking Fifth, Survey Says

Sep 4, 2013
Originally published on September 4, 2013 2:44 pm

U.S. competitiveness among global economies suffered after the 2008 global economic crisis. Four years after the crisis, the U.S. slipped in the World Economic Forum's annual competitiveness ranking. This year it's back up a bit: The U.S. rose to fifth position overall from seventh last year, in the forum's latest survey, which was released Wednesday.

Here's what the survey says about the U.S., the world's largest economy:

"Overall, many structural features continue to make the US economy extremely productive. US companies are highly sophisticated and innovative, supported by an excellent university system that collaborates admirably with the business sector in R&D. Combined with flexible labor markets and the scale opportunities afforded by the sheer size of its domestic economy — the largest in the world by far — these qualities continue to make the United States very competitive.

"On the other hand, some weaknesses in particular areas remain. Although the assessment of institutions improves this year, the business community continues to be rather critical, with trust in politicians still somewhat weak (50th), concerns about the government's ability to maintain arms-length relationships with the private sector (54th), and a general perception that the government spends its resources relatively wastefully (76th). The macroeconomic environment continues to be the country's greatest area of weakness (117th), although the deficit is narrowing for the first time since the onset of the financial crisis."

Switzerland has the worlds most competitive economy, according to the survey, followed by Singapore, Finland and Germany. All except Germany held the same rank last year. Germany rose from No. 6 to No. 4.

The forum uses factors like a country's infrastructure and innovation to determine its competitiveness.

The survey was released the same day the International Monetary Fund said in a surveillance note, obtained by Reuters, that the U.S. and other advanced economies will drive global growth, while emerging nations are expected to continue slowing.

Here's how the four countries — collectively known as BRIC — that drove global growth over the past decade performed in the forum's survey: Brazil fell to 56 from 48; Russia rose to 64 from 67; India continued its fall, dropping one place to 60, and China, the world's No. 2 economy, stayed in 29th place.

The survey says China's macroeconomic situation remains favorable, but it cites challenges, including corruption, security issues, low levels of accountability and ethical standards among business.

A map provided by WEF details each country's competitiveness. You can click here to see it:

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.