From captains of industry to the mom and pop fruit stand owners, all domestic businesses owners need to pay careful attention to what our trading “frenemies” are doing across the pond and around the world.

After all, if that tomato exporter south of the equator drops prices 10 percent, it may be enough for Farmer Brown’s patrons to go from fresh to frozen. When Elton John sings about “Circle of Life,” he’s just not talking about lions passing into the great beyond. He’s talking about the interconnectedness of global commerce.

According to Associated Press’ new Global Economy Tracker, the United States is acing economic recovery among its peers of G7 developed nations. But it’s failing new job creation. In other words, our economy is outpacing everyone except Canada while we’ve failed to make strides in replacing the 7.5 workers lost during the recession. In fact, we come in dead last among a group that includes Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany.

Foreign industrial powers often aren’t as quick to lay off their workforce for reasons ranging from cultural differences to stronger union activity. And if you do the math – the U.S. economy is doing more with fewer new employees – you’ll see our productivity is off the charts. American employees are working more hours, multitasking at breakneck speed and sleeping less. In fact, according to the A.P., U.S. workforce productivity doubled in 2009 and again in 2010.

As a U.S. employer, the question you need to ask is when that “bend but don’t break” labor crunch strategy will become “break but don’t collapse.” Doing more with less is not a long-term hiring strategy. When that farm fresh produce purchased from the fruit stand down the road gets a bit more battered when tossed around haphazardly by tired workers, that bruised tomato will be much more than a metaphor for a tired workforce.

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