January 19, 2000 (The Editor’s Desk is updated each business day.)

Hourly compensation still higher in Europe than U.S.

In Europe, hourly compensation costs in U.S. dollars for production workers in manufacturing were 11 percent higher than in the United States in 1998.

Hourly compensation costs in U.S. dollars for production workers in manufacturing, U.S. and selected economic groups
[Chart data—TXT]

Hourly compensation costs in U.S. dollars were $20.67 in Europe in 1998, compared to $18.56 in the U.S. This gap of 11 percent is much smaller than it was three years earlier—in 1995, compensation costs in Europe exceeded those in the United States by 28 percent.

For all 28 foreign economies studied by BLS, average hourly compensation costs were $14.69 in 1998. This was 79 percent of the U.S. level, down from 95 percent in 1995. The widening gap reflected the continued appreciation of the U.S. dollar against most foreign currencies, particularly the Asian currencies.

In the Asian newly industrializing economies (NIEs), hourly compensation costs in manufacturing were $5.72 in 1998. Hourly costs in the Asian NIEs are now less than one-third the U.S. level.

These data are a product of the BLS Foreign Labor Statistics program. The Asian newly industrialized economies include Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan. For additional information, see news release USDL 00-07, International Comparisons of Hourly Compensation Costs for Production Workers in Manufacturing, 1998. Note that the statistics for groups of foreign economies presented here reflect exchange rates as well as hourly compensation expressed in each country’s national currency.

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