The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released data comparing 19 nations in percent change in manufacturing productivity, output, and hours between 2008-2009. “International manufacturing productivity, 2009″ indicates that U.S. manufacturing output per hour grew 7.7 percent, more than any other nation. Japan (-11.4 percent) and Germany (-9.3 percent) took up the rear.
The U.S. ranked 6th in change in output (-5.9 percent) and 18th in change in hours (-12.6 percent), the relatively large drop in hours reflecting the high productivity gains.
To what extent are U.S. productivity gains the result of capital improvements? (Annual expenditures on machinery and equipment dropped 22.8 percent.) Increased physical demands on individual workers? (The number of production/nonsupervisory workers per manufacturing establishment fell by an estimated 12.2 percent.) What are the implications for competitiveness? Comments welcome.