U.S. workers lead in productivity

Workers at the Torrence Avenue Ford Assembly Plant in Chicago.

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TESS VIGELAND: Some encouraging news for Americans on this Labor Day: You can take it easy. You've earned the rest. A survey out today from the International Labor Organization in Geneva concludes that Americans are the most productive workers on the planet. From the European Desk in London Stephen Beard has more.


Stephen Beard: The average American worker, says the ILO, produces more than $63,000 worth of output a year. That's more than three times the global average. And it's more than 10 percent ahead of the most-productive countries in Europe. The key, according to labor market economist Ian Brinkley, lies in America's love affair with new technology.

IAN BRINKLEY: The Americans have been much better at getting productivity out of the new technologies that have come on-stream over the past decade. That's partly because America has a lot more in terms of high-tech manufacturing industry. But also they've been a lot better at applying it in more traditional sectors.

Among the other reasons for America's productivity lead over Europe, says the ILO, is the generally more competitive climate in the U.S. And the fact that Americans work longer hours and take fewer vacations. But people in Asian countries like China and South Korea spend even more time at work. And though their productivity is still relatively low, it's accelerating faster than anywhere else.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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