Surprises and Yawns in Productivity Report

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In a story out of Geneva, today, the United Nations reports that US workers are the most productive in the world, both hourly and annually. That’s no surprise, except to Democrats who like to paint Americans as the scum of the earth.

The hours that we work are a bit off-putting, though.

The U.S. employee put in an average 1,804 hours of work in 2006, the report said. That compared with 1,407.1 hours for the Norwegian worker and 1,564.4 for the French (source).

I like productivity, but I don’t like long work days. Some of the social problems in the United States and France may result from our tendencies to spend more time working than recreating or learning. Perhaps Fred Thompson’s administration will teach us how to get more done in less time.

Neither are the reasons for American productivity surprising:

America’s increased productivity “has to do with the ICT (information and communication technologies) revolution, with the way the U.S. organizes companies, with the high level of competition in the country, with the extension of trade and investment abroad,” said Jose Manuel Salazar, the ILO’s head of employment.

That the UN missed Bush’s tax cuts as a reason for increased US productivity is no surprise, even though America was second to France during the Clinton administration.

What is surprising is that a socialist organization like the UN would admit that competition plays a role in productivity. Another surprise is that Ireland came in second to the US. Being of recent Irish immigrants, I’ve been of the assumption that the Irish avoid work the way cats avoid rocking chairs. I’m not sure I’m completely happy knowing that my penchant for long hours may be more genetic and less my own personal commitment.