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American Workers Most Productive In The World

Americans work longer hours and produce more per person than their counterparts in other developed countries. But according to the findings of a United Nations report released Monday, worker productivity around the world is improving at an even faster pace. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.

For many Americans, Labor Day, the traditional holiday for workers, provides a welcome break from the pressures of work. Last year, American workers put in an average of 1,800 hours of work, and produced about $64,000 of wealth per capita.

Teacher Forrest Bankston says he's not surprised. "I don't think Americans know how to relax quite as much as the rest of the world and enjoy the process of getting from point A to point B."

Although a new UN report shows workers in Norway generated more wealth per hour than U.S. workers, primarily because of oil exports and high prices at home, American productivity has outpaced all other nations in the European Union, Japan and Switzerland.

Fred Beauchamp took time off from work to be with his family. He says Americans are working harder than they did 10 years ago. "People have so many more responsibilities, both family and work. And I think it's just worked its way into our mindset and our culture; that we have to work hard and produce more."

Despite the increase in American productivity, laborers in some East Asian countries worked nearly 400 hours more per year than their American counterparts. Bankston believes Americans will have to work even harder in the future to stay competitive. "I think the dollar is probably not going as far, people are wanting to do more, so I think they're wanting to work hard, earn more money and be able to do more.

Helped by the booming economies in China and India, productivity in some East Asian countries has more than doubled in the last ten years. But the report says the region is only about one-fifth as productive compared to developed countries because of the lack of investment in training, equipment and technology.