As Labor Day Fades, Applause

By September 3, 2007Economy

From AP:

GENEVA (AP) — American workers stay longer in the office, at the factory or on the farm than their counterparts in Europe and most other rich countries, and they produce more per person over the year.

They also get more done per hour than everyone but the Norwegians, according to a report by the United Nations, released Monday. It said the United States “leads the world in labour productivity.”

The average U.S. worker produces $63,885 of wealth per year, more than their counterparts in all other countries, the International Labour Organization said in its report. Ireland comes in second at $55,986, followed by Luxembourg at $55,641, Belgium at $55,235 and France at $54,609.

The ILO report is available here.

Meanwhile, Arthur Brooks, a visiting scholar at AEI, refutes the claims that Americans’ work habits make them less satisfied than their European counterparts, as we suffer from puritanism and a heartless capitalism:

According to either explanation of the high American work effort, we would be a lot happier if we could somehow throw off our chains–both emotionally and legally–and demand shorter work weeks, longer vacations and bulletproof tenure until our early retirements. A tidy hypothesis, to be sure–until we look at the facts.

The truth is that most Americans don’t feel particularly shackled. To begin with, an amazingly high percentage of us like our jobs. Among adults who worked 10 hours a week or more in 2002, the General Social Survey (GSS) found that 89% said they were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their jobs. Only 11% said they were not too satisfied or not at all satisfied.

Productive and happy. A good state to be in on a Labor Day.

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