7th in the World

The World Economic Forum released its annual rankings of global competitiveness today. The United States fell for the 4th year in a row, coming in 7th.

1. Switzerland
2. Singapore
3. Finland
4. Sweden
5. Netherlands
6. Germany
7. United States

Many things figure into a country’s economic competitiveness. And 7th is a perfectly respectable ranking (the real wailing should be reserved for Burundi, which comes in 144th out of 144 nations). But for any country, the trend is more important than the number, and the trend is not inspiring:

U.S. Competitiveness

2008:  1st

2009: 2nd

2010: 4th

2011: 5th

2012: 7th

Education matters more than it once did. It’s not a coincidence that the top 3 countries on this list also perform at the very top of the world on international math tests. Or as the report puts it, in report language:

“Workers who have received little formal education can carry out only simple manual work and find it much more difficult to adapt to more advanced production processes and techniques….Lack of basic education can therefore become a constraint on business development, with firms finding it difficult to move up the value chain by producing more sophisticated…products.”

Or as I might put it in simpler language: duh.

EducationAmanda Ripley