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

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 a.m. ET: 30,199,007 — Total deaths: 946,490— Total recoveries: 20,544, 967Map
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 a.m. ET: 6,675,593 — Total deaths: 197,644 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 90,710,730Map
  3. Politics: Former Pence aide says she plans to vote for Joe Biden, accusing Trump of costing lives in his coronavirus response.
  4. Health: Pew: 49% of Americans wouldn't get COVID-19 vaccine if available today Pandemic may cause cancer uptick The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine — COVID-19 racial disparities extend to health coverage losses.
  5. Business: Retail sales return to pre-coronavirus trend.
Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Mike Bloomberg's anti-chaos theory

CNN's Anderson Cooper questions Joe Biden last night at a drive-in town hall in Moosic, Pa., outside Scranton. Photo: CNN

Mike Bloomberg's $100 million Florida blitz begins today and will continue "wall to wall" in all 10 TV markets through Election Day, advisers tell me.

Why it matters: Bloomberg thinks that Joe Biden putting away Florida is the most feasible way to head off the national chaos we could have if the outcome of Trump v. Biden remained uncertain long after Election Day.

Biden's hardline Russia reset

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Getty Images photos: Mark Reinstein

When he talks about Russia, Joe Biden has sounded like Ronald Reagan all summer, setting up a potential Day 1 confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Biden were to win.

Why it matters: Biden has promised a forceful response against Russia for both election interference and alleged bounty payments to target American troops in Afghanistan. But being tougher than President Trump could be the easy part. The risk is overdoing it and making diplomacy impossible.