Falling for Fourth Straight Year, U.S. Slips to World's Seventh Most Competitive


Just 60 days before the U.S. presidential election, a report released on Wednesday shows the  U.S. once again has slipped among its peers on the list of the world’s most competitive nations.

The U.S. has fallen for the fourth straight year, by two spots, to the seventh most competitive country, according to The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 by the World Economic Forum.

It is now led by Switzerland, Singapore, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany.

“In addition to the burgeoning macroeconomic vulnerabilities, some aspects of the country’s institutional environment continue to raise concern among business leaders, particularly the low public trust in politicians and a perceived lack of government efficiency,” the World Economic Forum said in the report.

The report comes just two months before November’s election, where President Barack Obama, seeking the incumbency, will face off against Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

The Forum said a “number of escalating and unaddressed weaknesses have lowered the U.S. ranking in recent years,” particularly as the business community becomes more critical of the nation’s public and private institutions.

However, the Forum said the U.S. still remains a “global innovation powerhouse,” adding that the nation’s markets are working efficiently. U.S. companies remain highly sophisticated and complimented by the country’s university system, it said.

“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,” the Forum said.

Despite the eurozone financial crisis and continued uncertainty in Greece, Spain and other Southern European countries that have threatened the European Union, the region’s northernmost countries maintained their competitive position.

Switzerland remained the world’s most competitive for the fourth year in a row, and six of the top 10 countries are from either northern Europe or the U.K.

The Forum, which is a not-for-profit foundation based in Geneva, ranks countries’ competitiveness using factors such as infrastructure, innovation and productivity.

It said the tentative recovery the world saw during 2010 and the first half of last year has “given way to renewed concerns” and added that the global economy faces “a number of significant and interrelated challenges that could hamper a genuine upturn.”