U.S. Manufacturing Most Productive, But Others Catching Up

Manufacturing productivity in the U.S. is far outstripping that of other industrial countries, according to a new report by the Geneva-based International Labour Organization. But perhaps not for long. Value added by each U.S. worker is now $68,000 a year, more than twice that of Britain, with only $32,000. But western Europe is catching up: productivity there is rising 22 percentage points faster than in the U.S. While workers in China, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia put in longer hours than Americans, each American worker clocks an average of almost 2,000 hours a year, the highest annual average for the industrialized world. U.S. workers are putting in 4% more time on average than in 1980. In most other industrialized countries, hours have declined or remained stable. Norway has the highest employment ratio (69.8% of people of working age), followed closely by the U.S. with 63.8%. The U.S. also ranks with Mexico, South Korea, and Norway in registering a low level of long-term unemployment.

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