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International Comparisons of Manufacturing Productivity and Unit Labor Costs - Key Findings

JULY 2018

Click on the Map to Browse Productivity and Unit Labor Cost Data by Country.


About the July 2018 release

The Manufacturing Productivity and Unit Labor Cost dataset has been completely revised and updated with the 2018 release, adding more countries to the dataset and in some cases additional (historical) detail to existing countries. Data collection methods have been streamlined to include data sources such as Eurostat and the OECD, supplemented by country specific data. Some of the main changes are explained in the below. For more information, view the Change Notes.

View Summary Tables & Charts here.

Labor cost growth continues to outpace productivity growth worldwide

View infographic Productivity growth is key to restoring US manufacturing competitiveness.


  • US manufacturing competitiveness deteriorated in 2017 relative to 2016 as a pickup in productivity growth was offset by faster increases in labor costs.
  • Currency appreciations in Europe, Taiwan and South Korea caused a further increase in ULC, despite a general pick up in productivity growth and relatively moderate labor costs growth.


  • China and India continue to see faster labor costs growth vis-a-vis productivity growth, gradually eroding their cost competitiveness.
  • The Mexican manufacturing sector continues to struggle with stagnant productivity growth, even turning negative in 2017, driving ULC growth and hence reducing cost competitiveness.

Our Experts


Bart van Ark

Managing Director and Principal Investigator


Ataman Ozyildirim

Senior Director, Economics and Global Research Chair


Gad Levanon, PhD

Vice President, Labor Markets


Carol Corrado

Senior Advisor and Research Director, Economics Program


Abdul Erumban

Senior Research Fellow


Elizabeth Crofoot

Senior Economist


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