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February 1995, Vol. 118, No. 2
Mary Greiner, Christopher Kask, and Christopher Sparks
I n 1993, the U.S. manufacturing sector turned in its best labor productivity performance in 6 years. But in a comparison of 12 industrial countries-the United States, Canada, Japan, and 9 Western European nations-productivity in 4 countries grew faster then in the United States. In the 1979-93 period, U.S. manufacturing productivity growth was matched or exceeded by 8 of the 12 countries.
Also in 1993, U.S. manufacturing unit labor costs recorded their best performance in 6 years, holding to their 1992 level. In a comparison of 14 economies-a group that includes Korea and Taiwan in addition to the 12 countries mentioned above-unit labor costs declined in 4 nations in 1993. Over the 1979-93 period, all the economies recorded increases in unit labor costs. Only three economies had lower average increases in this period than the United States. However, when measured on a U.S. dollar basis-to account for the relative changes in exchange rates-8 of the 14 economies had average increases that were smaller or about as small as the U.S. increase.
This article examines comparative trends in manufacturing output per hour, unit labor costs, and related measures in 1993, the most recent year for which comparative data are available, and in the overall 1979-93 period. The United States, Canada, Japan, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom are examined.
This excerpt is from an article published in the February 1995 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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