NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

U.S. Works Longer Hours -- and Produces More Per Hour

September 7, 1999

American workers are putting in longer hours and getting more accomplished than workers in any other industrialized country, according to a study released yesterday by the International Labor Organization. Accordingly, they are rewarded by a higher standard of living.

While hours spent on the job have been increasing for American workers over the past two decades, they have been declining in countries ranging from Canada to Britain to Japan, the study reports.

  • In 1997, U.S. employees worked an average of 1,966 hours - - up 4 percent since 1980.
  • In France, workers clocked an average 1,656 hours in 1997, an 8.5 percent decline since 1880 -- while in Japan the 1997 figure was 1,889 hours, down 10 percent.
  • In 1996, the U.S. outpaced Japan by nearly $10,000 in terms of value added per person employed, and nearly $9 per hour worked -- but statisticians say Japan is closing that gap.
  • U.S. workers outproduce their Canadian counterparts by nearly $5 in value added per hour worked -- but productivity is increasing there also.

Although the current U.S. unemployment rate stands at 4.2 percent, nearly one-half of all countries in the study posted unemployment rates above 7 percent in 1996 and 1997.

Source: Timothy Burn, "U.S. Employees Work Longer, Achieve More," Washington Times, September 7, 1999.


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