The Army Of American Productivity And Your Retirement

White crane towers at a large construction site with condominium balconies against a blue sky

The Army Of American Productivity And Your Retirement

White crane towers at a large construction site with condominium balconies against a blue sky


A recent Gallup study showed that only 31% of the workforce in the U.S. and Canada loved or even liked their jobs, referring to this group as “engaged.” The other 69% were either “quiet quitting,” meaning they expel just enough energy to keep a job, or “loud quitting,” where the employee turns venting into a performance of sorts. Assume the former corresponds to job apathy or discontent, whereas the latter might suggest a stronger hatred, perhaps a hope to create collateral damage en route to the exit. Neither trend sounds particularly healthy for the U.S. economy, and looking at the Gallup workplace engagement numbers, one might forecast an economic death spiral.

For all of its recent and lamented adversity, the U.S. economy’s engine is composed of a resilient mechanism that, in the words of Vanguard Founder John Bogle, helps it “press on regardless”: the Army of American Productivity.

What is the AAP, and why should you care? It’s one of the foremost drivers of equity market values over time—which may play a significant role in your 401(k) performance. Whether we like, love, or hate our jobs, every person drawing a paycheck is a soldier in the Army of American Productivity.

A powerful driver of domestic progress, the AAP possesses a never-ending supply of energy—society’s collective efforts. Imagine 167 million people, essentially every job holder and job seeker in the U.S., from coast to coast, fueling innovation and economic growth every single day. It’s like a 24/7 productivity party, and if you want to work, you’re invited.

This relentless momentum is put in motion by three human feelings: fear, optimism, and purpose. Not only are these potent, but they are enduring.


Sadly, a large chunk of the American workforce can be motivated by fear—not making ends meet, the lights going out, or the cupboards running bare. Despite its grim connotation, fear is fundamental to survival and a compelling motivator. The pesky nudge from factors like a mortgage being due keeps people moving, working, and contributing to the economy, even if they hate their job, and even on Mondays.


For many, there is a foundational belief that good things are to come. It’s this need for hope that leads to innovation. Pessimism could have thwarted the invention of the airplane or the Polio vaccine. Optimism frees people up to strive for inventive modernization. It adds a turbocharger to the U.S. economic engine. When combined with knowledge and hard work, optimism allows ambition to foster progress.


The noblest of the trio, purpose gives work its meaning. It calls on people not just to enhance their own life experience but to make the entire world a better place. From life-saving medical breakthroughs to sustainable energy solutions to worldwide communication platforms, purpose-driven work is the heart and soul of the AAP. Each and every day, people are compelled to push the economy forward, one cutting-edge idea at a time.

Investing in the U.S. stock market, particularly dividend-paying stocks, could put you in a leading AAP position. The companies comprising these indices are the front-liners of American productivity, and by investing in them, you’re not just betting on their success; you’re becoming a part of lucrative opportunities.

What about inflation? Yes, the threat to purchasing power and standard of living is never too far from view. But here’s the good news: Historically, as the chart below shows, stock dividends alone (in the S&P 500) have typically grown at nearly twice the pace of inflation. So, even when the actual dollars in your wallet may be wilting, your investment dollars often stay ahead of inflation.

As you plan for retirement, remember that investing in U.S. equity markets isn’t just about working to secure your financial future. It’s also about believing in and benefiting from the U.S. economy’s resilience, innovation, and dynamism.

So, put on your investor’s hat and lock arms with the concept and spirit of the Army of American Productivity. With a bit of strategic planning, a sprinkle of optimism, and a whole lot of productivity, your retirement can be bright.


Read other Articles

Tools & Calculators

Ready to talk with an advisor?