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September 02, 2003
U.S. Workers Lead the World in Productivity
The United States is out front of the rest of the world when it comes to the annual output of its workers, but several European countries lead the United States in terms of output per hour worked, according to a new report from the United Nations.

U.S. productivity accelerated in 2002, surpassing Europe and Japan in terms of annual output per worker for the first substantial period since WWII and widening the productivity gap with the rest of the world, according to the study by the International Labor Office of the United Nations.

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The ILO notes that part of the difference in output per worker was due to the fact that Americans worked longer hours than their European counterparts. U.S. workers put in an average of 1,815 hours in 2002 compared with European workers who put in 1,300 to 1,800 hours. In Japan, hours worked dropped to about the same level as in the U.S., according to the ILO.

The report shows U.S. output per person employed growing 2.8 per cent in 2002 from 2001 levels, for an average growth rate over the past seven years of 2.2 per cent. This was double the growth rate of 1.2 per cent in the European Union and 1.1 per cent in Japan during the same period. The report says output per person employed in the U.S. reached a level of $60,728 in 2002, up from $59,081 in 2001.

The figures for output per hour worked show Norway, France and Belgium ahead of the U.S. since the mid 1990s. In 2002, Norway had an output per hour worked of about $38, followed by France at $35, Belgium at $34 and the U.S. at $32.

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