It's not just you. When I programmed the text layout code, I wasn't expecting it to be used for as many things as we ended up using it for, so it wasn't designed to be very efficient for really big blocks of text, and it's even worse when all that text is made up of links, like in the asset list. Since the asset list came late in development, there wasn't much we could do about it, but it's definitely something we'll be improving in the future. I have some long-term plans on how to improve our text layout code the "right way", and that will probably end up in future games, but Rob has an idea to reduce the amount of text in the asset list, which will immediately improve the performance there. With any luck, that fix will end up in a future patch of Philip.
The workers idea is interesting; I'll mention it to the other guys. For now, if you want to hire a lot of units, the quickest way to do it is to use the numpad. Each of the nine buttons on the control panel maps to the key on the numpad in the same position, so to hire five workers, just press the key combo '7, 7' five times. If you wanted to hire three peltasts from a Macedonian city, just press '7, 9' three times.