Labor Productivity Up Across the Globe

June 1, 2004 ( - Global labor productivity growth was 1.8% for the 1995-2002 period, up from only 1% in the first half of the 1990s.

Relative to the United States though, the rest of the world’s productivity level is just 21%. This translates into per capita income amounting to only just 19% of the U.S. level, according to data accumulated by The Conference Board.

Leading the way in labor productivity growth is Asia, growing 3.4% between 1990 and 2002. Among the key players on this continent, China recorded a labor productivity growth of 6.5% annually, while India leads South Asia with 3.4% productivity growth between 1995 and 2002. These two countries are of significant importance since China has 28% of the world’s job and India 15%.

“Gains in East Asia and the Pacific, which account for 42% of world employment, and South Asia, with 18% of world employment, are critical to future productivity advances,” says Robert McGuckin , Director of Economic Research at The Conference Board and co-author of the report.

In other areas of the world, Africa returned to positive productivity growth (0.9%), with improvements in almost all countries since 1995. Also slight higher between 1995 and 2002 were productivity growth levels in the Middle East, up 0.8%.

The Conference Board’s report is based on a statistical database that now covers 97 countries.