Smartphones ruin productivity? Oh, please!

Are cellphones responsible for America’s economics woes?

Bueller? Bueller?

Conservative commentator Ben Stein claims the cellphone is responsible for a “stall” in the growth of worker productivity.

He doesn’t have a lot of scientific research to back up his claim — this is economics, after all — but he figures if the average American checks his/her smartphone 150 times a day, that’s time not being devoted to the work at hand.

CBS explored this notion last year and found that, yes, the bosses were grumbling that they weren’t getting more out of the workers, to whom they’ve not given much of an increase in wages over the years. Funny, that didn’t make the list. Gossip did. So did social media. And, of course, breaks.

Between 2007 and 2012, wages for the lowest-paid 70 percent of the workforce fell, the Economic Policy Institute report said, but productivity grew by 7.7 percent.

And more recent surveys have shown that people aren’t using their vacation time, preferring instead to get up and go to work, presumably so they don’t lose their jobs.

Then there’s this nugget from the Chicago Tribune, which was tucked into the Star Tribune’s business section today: Workers are expected to answer workplace e-mails and phone calls during off-hours, but don’t expect any overtime pay for it.

In a couple of weeks, 50 Chicago cops will argue their lawsuit seeking overtime pay for off-duty hours spent monitoring and responding to work emails and phone calls on their company-issued mobile devices.