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
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 % of
Country Q2 Q2 Q2 Q2 Q2 Q2 Total
China 0 2,770,000 5,920,000 8,760,000 11,490,000 19,187,700 28.6%
Indonesia 0 2,920,130 9,159,450 8,860,170 10,100,740 13,684,480 20.4%
Turkey 1,875,000 3,329,000 4,643,000 5,265,000 6,015,000 6,843,000 10.2%
Philippines 735,000 1,155,000 2,562,000 3,584,000 3,561,000 4,407,000 6.6%
U.S -2,143,000 -3,004,000 -2,743,000 280,000 1,923,000 4,069,000 6.1%
Korea 1,106,000 1,419,000 1,891,000 2,256,000 2,617,000 3,014,000 4.5%
Russia 1,000,000 2,300,000 2,600,000 3,500,000 2,500,000 3,000,000 4.5%
Brazil -8,000 725,000 1,236,000 1,683,000 1,826,000 1,787,000 2.7%
Germany -135,000 139,000 698,000 1,156,000 1,362,000 1,725,000 2.6%
Venezuela 458,006 581,466 679,821 1,120,863 1,456,648 1,643,806 2.5%
Qatar 1,465,671 1,584,815 2.4%
Thailand 2,164,500 1,897,030 2,686,710 3,329,740 3,695,540 1,563,000 2.3%
U.K -397,000 -110,000 -98,000 332,000 608,000 1,415,000 2.1%
Chile -193,600 351,200 803,400 903,700 1,073,300 1,204,400 1.8%
Egypt -1,000 1,169,000 549,000 811,000 904,000 1,193,000 1.8%
Canada -152,100 174,200 408,800 595,600 838,700 911,000 1.4%
Kazakhstan 137,600 333,800 384,500 721,600 753,600 816,700 1.2%
Australia -26,600 210,400 422,200 547,300 687,900 788,100 1.2%
Argentina -76,000 167,000 637,000 726,000 994,000 763,000 1.1%
Taiwan -59,000 180,000 393,000 551,000 656,000 759,000 1.1%
Peru 127,000 296,000 352,000 499,000 666,000 742,000 1.1%
DominicanRepublic 0 161,336 316,387 421,719 408,379 605,463 0.9%
Israel 49,000 176,000 273,000 369,700 447,600 555,800 0.8%
SouthAfrica -259,000 -807,000 -694,000 -286,000 76,000 439,000 0.7%
Hungary -41,300 -59,500 -29,600 37,800 92,900 266,700 0.4%
Switzerland -14,000 3,000 118,000 170,000 230,000 266,000 0.4%
HongKong -24,100 -40,600 69,500 163,300 250,500 254,000 0.4%
Sweden -72,000 -40,700 45,600 101,000 127,900 181,200 0.3%
NewZealand 1,000 1,000 44,000 57,000 73,000 146,000 0.2%
Austria -40,416 -15,224 49,237 87,778 107,351 137,657 0.2%
Ukraine 107,100 153,600 202,300 467,200 654,700 132,500 0.2%
Norway -6,000 -15,000 13,000 64,000 84,000 108,000 0.2%
Belgium -11,000 13,000 84,000 95,000 82,000 94,000 0.1%
Macedonia 17,967 8,940 24,620 30,011 60,278 68,088 0.1%
Bahrain 1,556 5,846 30,778 57,541 57,541 57,541 0.1%
Macao -4,600 -8,600 -2,400 13,000 31,900 55,500 0.1%
Luxembourg 250 3,937 9,950 15,399 19,257 24,273 0.0%
BosniaHerzegovina -32,954 -47,888 -30,579 -35,186 -2,881 18,600 0.0%
Malta 903 3,396 7,808 11,438 15,538 14,904 0.0%
Montenegro 9,534 -10,084 -1,110 -6,738 10,556 5,612 0.0%
Iceland -4,125 -2,801 -2,377 -366 2,951 5,278 0.0%
Colombia 1,440 2,069 2,683 3,962 3,928 4,381 0.0%
Estonia -19,700 -53,600 -13,000 4,000 22,100 -4,200 0.0%
Moldova 185,200 165,000 156,000 119,200 137,500 -19,500 0.0%
Albania -20 14,832 7,765 49,874 64,138 -20,833 0.0%
CzechRepublic -5,500 -65,900 -70,400 -58,700 -58,700 -23,800 0.0%
Lithuania -8,300 -98,900 -67,700 -45,800 -32,800 -34,600 -0.1%
Cyprus 1,201 8,118 3,718 -7,422 -32,289 -34,705 -0.1%
Slovenia 19,000 6,000 -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%
Poland 133,000 -235,000 -134,000 -107,000 -184,000 -141,000 -0.2%
Belarus 1,500 23,100 25,700 -73,100 -97,900 -162,500 -0.2%
France -75,300 -102,800 41,800 2,800 -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%
Bulgaria 14,290 -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%
Greece 36,000 -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.