Labor Day News

Despite the fact that the United States celebrates Labor Day at the wrong time of year, at least yesterday was celebrating labor. On the same day, the UN’s International Labour Organization released a report that says US workers are the most productive workers in the world (Key Indicators of Labour Market).

So we workers in the US should stop and pat ourselves on the back and enjoy the holiday. Umm, not according to Steven Beard of NPR’s Marketplace:


Doug Krizner: On this Labor Day, news the American worker is the most productive in the world. That’s according to a new report from the International Labor Organization in Geneva. Let’s bring in our European correspondent Stephen Beard. Stephen, what do these figures show?

Stephen Beard: Well they show that Americans work longer hours than the citizens of most other developed countries and are by a long shot the most productive. These figures are actually quite startling. The UN’s arrived at them by taking total GDP and dividing it by the number of people employed and these show that the average U.S. worker produces $63,885 worth of output a year and that compares with small countries like Ireland, Luxembourg and Belgium, which come next in the rankings, which produce only around $55,000.

Krizner: I would imagine that a lot of this has to do with the extent to which, particularly in the States, we have this huge availability of information technology.

Beard: That’s what the UN says. It’s clearly that the whole computer and telecom revolution has gone faster and further in the U.S. than perhaps anywhere else. Also they point to the way American companies organize themselves and the generally high level of competition in the country as a whole.

Krizner: Stephen Beard in London, thanks for the encouraging words on our Labor Day.

Beard: Keep working.