October 2, 2008 (The Editor’s Desk is updated each business day.)

Manufacturing unit labor costs fell in 2007 in Taiwan, Japan, U.S.

Expressed in U.S. dollars, manufacturing unit labor costs increased in 13 economies under comparison in 2007 and declined in 3. Taiwan experienced the largest drop in unit labor costs, followed by Japan and the United States.

Manufacturing unit labor costs (U.S. dollar basis), selected countries or areas, percent change, 2006-07
[Chart data—TXT]

Norway experienced the largest rise in unit labor costs in 2007 among the 13 economies under comparison.

Movements in exchange rates often are the dominant force behind changes in comparative unit labor costs and international competitiveness. In 2007, the U.S. dollar weakened against most of the currencies being compared. The only exceptions were Japan and Taiwan, where the currencies depreciated against the dollar. This depreciation of the U.S. dollar against most currencies continues a trend that began in 2001. In 2007, the dollar fell 9.1 percent against the euro, following a decline of 0.9 percent in 2006.

These data are from the Foreign Labor Statistics program. Data are subject to revision. Additional information is available in "International Comparisons of Manufacturing Productivity and Unit Labor Cost Trends, 2007," (PDF) (HTML) news release USDL 08-1343. Unit labor costs are defined as the cost of labor input required to produce one unit of output. They are computed as labor compensation in nominal terms divided by real output.


Related TED article:


Happy 10th Birthday, TED!

The very first issue of The Editor's Desk (TED) was posted on September 28, 1998. TED was the first online-only publication of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For 10 years, BLS has been committed to posting a new TED article each business day, for a total of over 2,400 articles so far.

Find out more about the story of TED