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The assembly line for Ford F-150 trucks at the company's manufacturing facility in Dearborn, Michigan. Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

The United States is the world’s most competitive economy, according to a new report by the World Economic Forum. Singapore, Germany, Switzerland and Japan round out this year's top five.

What's happening: The U.S. position reflects fundamental competitive strength across 12 key areas, especially its labor market, financial system and business dynamism, which measures everything from time required to start a business to attitudes toward risk. Each of these factors contributes to America's vibrant culture of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Yes, but: The U.S. does have room for improvement. The report notes signs of a weakening social fabric and worsening security situation, for which the U.S. ranks a meagre 56th out of 140 economies studied.

  • The U.S. homicide rate is 5 times the advanced economies’ average.
  • America ranks 46th for its health-adjusted life expectancy of 67.7 years. That's 3 years below the advanced economies’ average, 6 years less than Singapore and Japan, and even shorter than China's.
  • On checks and balances, the U.S. is 40th; judicial independence, 15th; and corruption, 16th.

What to watch: One of the key drivers of U.S. economic success has been an embrace of both products and talent from other countries. Less openness risks undermining America’s competitiveness and hurting its economy.

The big picture: Competitiveness is only one dimension of prosperity. The report shows that it is typically associated with better social performance, with one notable exception: equality. Indeed, American society is the most unequal among advanced economies. More comprehensive social policies would help tackle this growing problem.

Thierry Geiger is head of research and benchmarking at the World Economic Forum's Centre for the New Economy and Society.

Go deeper

City Council member Andre Dickens wins Atlanta mayoral race

Andre Dickens during a rally at Center Stage on November 28, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

City Council member Andre Dickens won a runoff election Tuesday to become Atlanta's next mayor, soundly beating the council's president Felicia Moore.

The big picture: Dickens was just a few months ago considered to have an outside chance of replacing Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who announced in May that she wouldn't seek a second term.

UN report: Pandemic set to cost global tourism $2 trillion in 2021

A tourist in front of the Eiffel Tower on November 25, 2021 in Paris. Photo:Chesnot/Getty Images

A new United Nations report warns that global tourism will see only modest revenue gains in 2021 after last year's historic losses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: Tourism revenues in 2020 fell by more than half from the previous year — a significant blow to the global economy, according to analysis by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

2 federal judges temporarily block Biden vaccine mandates

President Biden delivers remarks on the Omicron COVID-19 variant at the White House on Nov. 29. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

The Biden administration was temporarily blocked from enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandates for millions of workers by federal judges in two states on Tuesday.

The big picture: The orders, by federal judges in Kentucky and Louisiana, come one day after a federal judge in Missouri halted the mandate, which has a Jan. 4 deadline, in 10 states.