Twenty years ago there was no question what areas of the world markets paid most attention to.  The United States.  The U.S. economy was by far the largest in the world, with the most productive and innovative workers and businesses.

Because of the dominance, financial markets hanged on every U.S. data point.  That dominance has diminished and continues to erode.

The following are three charts that show why markets increasingly view the American economy with a “has been” mentality.

Overall, it’s much more likely that the U.S. will become more like E.U. member countries than competing, high growth economies.

Growth in Global Employment

The first graphic is global employment growth from 2009 to today.

Perhaps surprisingly, the figure shows the dominance of job creation in China.  Since 2009, over a quarter of all job creation across the globe occurred in China (N=65; the table below details the numbers).  In numbers, that equates to about 19 million of the 67 million jobs created occurred in the People’s Republic.  Chinese businesses and individuals are doing well, very well.

A distant second is are businesses and individuals in Indonesia, with net new job creation at 14 million.  The remaining members of the top five include Turkey at 7 million, and the Philippines and the United States at 4 million.

On the other end, EU member countries look like the very definition of misery.  The worst of the group is Spain at -2 million jobs created, followed by Greece at -1 million, Italy at -800K, Portugal at -600K, and Romania at -400K.

Growth in Employment since 2009 China

Global Employment Growth
200920102011201220132014% of
CountryQ2Q2Q2Q2Q2Q2Total
China02,770,0005,920,0008,760,00011,490,00019,187,70028.6%
Indonesia02,920,1309,159,4508,860,17010,100,74013,684,48020.4%
Turkey1,875,0003,329,0004,643,0005,265,0006,015,0006,843,00010.2%
Philippines735,0001,155,0002,562,0003,584,0003,561,0004,407,0006.6%
U.S-2,143,000-3,004,000-2,743,000280,0001,923,0004,069,0006.1%
Korea1,106,0001,419,0001,891,0002,256,0002,617,0003,014,0004.5%
Russia1,000,0002,300,0002,600,0003,500,0002,500,0003,000,0004.5%
Brazil-8,000725,0001,236,0001,683,0001,826,0001,787,0002.7%
Germany-135,000139,000698,0001,156,0001,362,0001,725,0002.6%
Venezuela458,006581,466679,8211,120,8631,456,6481,643,8062.5%
Qatar1,465,6711,584,8152.4%
Thailand2,164,5001,897,0302,686,7103,329,7403,695,5401,563,0002.3%
U.K-397,000-110,000-98,000332,000608,0001,415,0002.1%
Chile-193,600351,200803,400903,7001,073,3001,204,4001.8%
Egypt-1,0001,169,000549,000811,000904,0001,193,0001.8%
Canada-152,100174,200408,800595,600838,700911,0001.4%
Kazakhstan137,600333,800384,500721,600753,600816,7001.2%
Australia-26,600210,400422,200547,300687,900788,1001.2%
Argentina-76,000167,000637,000726,000994,000763,0001.1%
Taiwan-59,000180,000393,000551,000656,000759,0001.1%
Peru127,000296,000352,000499,000666,000742,0001.1%
DominicanRepublic0161,336316,387421,719408,379605,4630.9%
Israel49,000176,000273,000369,700447,600555,8000.8%
SouthAfrica-259,000-807,000-694,000-286,00076,000439,0000.7%
Hungary-41,300-59,500-29,60037,80092,900266,7000.4%
Switzerland-14,0003,000118,000170,000230,000266,0000.4%
HongKong-24,100-40,60069,500163,300250,500254,0000.4%
Sweden-72,000-40,70045,600101,000127,900181,2000.3%
NewZealand1,0001,00044,00057,00073,000146,0000.2%
Austria-40,416-15,22449,23787,778107,351137,6570.2%
Ukraine107,100153,600202,300467,200654,700132,5000.2%
Norway-6,000-15,00013,00064,00084,000108,0000.2%
Belgium-11,00013,00084,00095,00082,00094,0000.1%
Macedonia17,9678,94024,62030,01160,27868,0880.1%
Bahrain1,5565,84630,77857,54157,54157,5410.1%
Macao-4,600-8,600-2,40013,00031,90055,5000.1%
Luxembourg2503,9379,95015,39919,25724,2730.0%
BosniaHerzegovina-32,954-47,888-30,579-35,186-2,88118,6000.0%
Malta9033,3967,80811,43815,53814,9040.0%
Montenegro9,534-10,084-1,110-6,73810,5565,6120.0%
Iceland-4,125-2,801-2,377-3662,9515,2780.0%
Colombia1,4402,0692,6833,9623,9284,3810.0%
Estonia-19,700-53,600-13,0004,00022,100-4,2000.0%
Moldova185,200165,000156,000119,200137,500-19,5000.0%
Albania-2014,8327,76549,87464,138-20,8330.0%
CzechRepublic-5,500-65,900-70,400-58,700-58,700-23,8000.0%
Lithuania-8,300-98,900-67,700-45,800-32,800-34,600-0.1%
Cyprus1,2018,1183,718-7,422-32,289-34,705-0.1%
Slovenia19,0006,000-24,000-42,000-58,000-65,000-0.1%
Latvia-44,000-126,000-109,000-101,000-79,000-86,000-0.1%
Ireland-40,200-119,700-155,800-177,600-140,300-106,500-0.2%
Poland133,000-235,000-134,000-107,000-184,000-141,000-0.2%
Belarus1,50023,10025,700-73,100-97,900-162,500-0.2%
France-75,300-102,80041,8002,800-159,000-166,800-0.2%
Denmark-38,000-113,000-125,000-147,000-138,000-169,000-0.3%
Croatia-1,120-90,139-90,635-120,070-137,513-182,658-0.3%
Bulgaria14,290-96,540-112,710-183,350-196,620-286,040-0.4%
Serbia-137,800-172,100-234,100-247,100-265,100-286,300-0.4%
Netherlands-65,000-182,000-178,000-162,000-268,000-350,000-0.5%
Japan-1,060,000-1,100,000-1,170,000-1,200,000-920,000-370,000-0.6%
Romania-189,400-543,200-622,500-497,000-425,300-384,300-0.6%
Portugal-49,600-133,200-245,600-442,000-631,900-571,400-0.9%
Italy-187,000-321,000-208,000-291,000-767,000-822,000-1.2%
Greece36,000-177,400-429,200-861,600-1,017,000-1,073,300-1.6%
Spain-307,800-699,900-867,700-1,721,000-2,309,000-2,147,700-3.2%

China vs America: Productivity

The next figure presents a second measure of American mediocrity – productivity growth.

The leader in productivity growth are workers in China, up 38 percent since 2009.  In second place are workers in Indonesia at 15 percent.  The third, fourth, and fifth place takers include Russia at 11 percent, South Korea at 9 percent, and Spain at 8 percent.

On the south end, the slowest growing productive workers are in the U.K. (1.6 percent), Italy (1.9 percent), and Switzerland (2 percent).

The increasingly common “averageness” of the American numbers is easily visible.  Worker productivity is up 6 percent since 2009, placing American workers as middle of the road.

Productivity Gains since 2009

China vs America: Earnings Growth

The third graphic addressing the average nature of the American economic experience is earnings growth, as measured by unit labor costs.

Unsurprisingly, unit labor costs grew the fastest in China at 65 percent since 2009.  Other members of high-growth labor cost increases include Indonesia (47 percent), Australia (13 percent), South Korea (7 percent), and Canada (7 percent).

The lower growing unit labor cost countries include businesses and individuals in Spain at -9 percent, Japan at -5 percent, and Switzerland at 1 percent.

Unit Labor Costs since 2009

Looking on the whole, the U.S. experience over the past five years has been mediocre.  With such an experience and no expectation of anything changing, it comes as no surprise that markets increasingly react more to news out of China than they do to U.S. economic data points.