The United States is falling short on a number of critical measures of competitiveness, with small businesses bearing the most pain due to the shortfalls, a new study by Harvard Business School finds.
The end result is the country is failing to promote prosperity among all Americans, according to Harvard's fifth-annual U.S. Competitiveness Project report.
Professor Michael Porter, co-chair of the Competitiveness Project, said Thursday the weakness extends beyond the current economic recovery from the financial crisis. According to the study, America's performance peaked in the late 1990s.
"We're stalled in America. Our performance, economic performance, on many metrics is worse than we've seen in many generations. I mean not five years. I mean 10, 15, 20, 30 years," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box."
The study, which draws on surveys of Harvard Business School alumni and the general public, finds the United States retains key strengths in areas like higher education, entrepreneurship and capital markets. But those advantages have been offset by weaknesses in the corporate tax code, early and secondary education, infrastructure, the political system and health care.
Those problems have gone unsolved because Washington has failed to have an honest conversation about addressing them, and the country lacks a cohesive economic strategy, particularly at the federal level, the study concludes.