Monday, September 06, 1999

Work hours expand in U.S.


But Americans losing lead in productivity

BY GEIR MOULSON
The Associated Press

        GENEVA — Americans work the longest hours in the industrialized world, overtaking the Japanese, according to a United Nations study being released today.

        But the U.S. lead in productivity is being whittled away by European and Japanese workers, who are working less, said the report by the International Labor Organization.

        Hard-working Americans run a risk of burning out, said the ILO's Lawrence Jeff Johnson, co-author of the 600-page “Key Indicators of the Labor Market” report. The report was based on figures covering the years 1980-1997.

        On average, U.S. workers clocked 1,966 hours at work in the most recent year, the ILO study said. In 1980, the average was 1,883 hours.

        The Japanese worked an average 1,889 hours in the most recent year measured there, 1995, but have been spending less time on the job since clocking more than 2,100 hours in 1980.

        “While the benefits of hard work are clear, it is not at all clear that working more is the same thing as working better,” ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said.

        Western Europe also saw a significant fall in hours worked, the report said, with Norway producing the shortest hours among the industrial nations studied — 1,399 hours.

        French and German workers labored for 1,656 and 1,574 hours respectively in 1997.

Jobs plentiful, but not all gain in market's flux



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