The Great American Worker: Productivity Increases

by: Mark J. Perry


To balance all of the bad news about the U.S. economy, here's some good news from the BLS Monday: Not only are American manufacturing workers probably the most productive in the world, they keep gaining on workers in other countries.

The top chart above lists the productivity gains for manufacturing workers from 2006 to 2007 (most recent data available) in 16 countries, and the U.S. gain of 4.1% in just one year was higher than the productivity gains in all countries except for Taiwan, Korea and Germany.

Over a longer period of time (1979-2007), American manufacturing workers had higher average annual gains in productivity (3.9%) than all countries except for Taiwan and Sweden during that period.

Bottom Line: One of the reasons that there are 6 million fewer U.S. manufacturing jobs today (13.428 million) than in 1979 (19.553 million), an average annual decline of 1.2%, is that American workers have become 4% more productive each and every year.