Quality Magazine

U.S. Posts Productivity Increases

October 23, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Manufacturing labor productivity decreased in 2008 in 12 of the 17 economies compared by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Republic of Korea and the United States had the largest productivity increases (1.2% each) among the five economies where productivity increased. Singapore had the steepest productivity decline (-6.6%).

For all economies, labor productivity in manufacturing increased less or declined more in 2008 than the average annual changes over the 2000-2008 period, when almost all of the economies studied experienced productivity increases.

In 2008 manufacturing productivity decreased in almost all of the 17 economies compared, in contrast to past years and periods, when most economies registered productivity increases. Singapore (-6.6%) and Denmark (-4.5%) experienced the largest productivity declines in 2008.

Manufacturing output decreased in 13 of the 17 economies in 2008. The declines ranged between -0.5% in Belgium to -5.7% in Canada. The U.S. output decline of 2.7% was in the middle of this range. Among the four countries with output growth in 2008, the Korean increase of 3.1% was the largest.

For most economies, declines in 2008 manufacturing output were accompanied by declines in employment, as well as by declines in average hours worked.

In 2008 manufacturing employment decreased in 10 of the 17 economies. The United States had the largest decline in employment (-3.4%), while Singapore had the largest increase in employment (+3.4%). Over the 2000-2008 period, the United Kingdom and the United States experienced the steepest average annual declines in manufacturing employment (-3.9 and -3% respectively).

In 2008 average hours worked in manufacturing declined in 10 of the 17 economies and increased in 5, while France and Italy showed no change in average hours worked. Average hours worked fell 0.5 in U.S. manufacturing.

For more information, visit www.bls.gov.